Towards the end of the school year last year I was talking with various mom friends about summer plans. Trips to be taken, pools to be splashed in, and camps to attend. I quickly realized that I hadn’t even thought about summer camps for my kiddos. By the time I started looking, most of our local day camps were full or past the early registrant discounts. So I took a deep breath (realizing that a summer home with my kiddos full full FULL time wasn’t going to be all that bad) and rolled up my sleeves to create a plan to save my sanity and add some structured yet fun activities to our days. I wrote about our flexible curriculum outline over at Dallas Moms Blog and guess what? We had a fantastic summer.Now our summer wasn’t all pool trips and exotic vacation – we had some significant trips planned as well as plans to move into a new house! But I knew that between packing and shifting our normal routines – we needed some predictable fun in our days. As a former elementary (with a short stint in preschool as well!) teacher it was actually pretty fun to plan out all of the units and research activities and crafts to do. I felt like I was really getting to dive into the fun side of education that I hadn’t experienced in quite a while and it was fun to show my kids my teacher side.
Now that school has started again and I have had to reflect on our summer I wanted to share the top five lessons I learned during our Summer Camp at Home days over the past few months.
- Planning out everything with the big picture in mind way KEY.
I formulated a plan for 12 weeks over the summer, collected ideas, and made resource lists to be well prepared. I didn’t buy everything I needed or prep materials right away – that way if we missed a week (or three as it turned out – between our family vacation and house move!) I wouldn’t kick myself for buying supplies we didn’t end up using in the end. But having the master plan in mind gave me something to always fall back on.
- Finding age appropriate activities and crafts can be tough!
Currently our girls are 4 and 2 and finding age appropriate activities that they could participate and engage actively in together was HARD. My 4 year old is very into science experiments and intricate art projects while my 2 year old was much more into hands-on activity games and process art. Thankfully we were usually able to find middle ground with most of our activities. However, it was hard those first few weeks trying to figure out how to modify projects so that they both could enjoy at the same time.
- The library is a glorious place to be in the afternoon!
I feel like I have been pretty much bound to a morning schedule the past 4 years or so. Both of our girls do much better on outings and activities in the morning but it was tough to find a time to go to the library during a weekday morning that wasn’t crowded with story time goers or didn’t conflict with something else on our calendar. One week I just decided to go on a Monday afternoon and that became our summer routine! Barely anyone was at the library during the hot afternoon hours and my girls enjoyed getting to browse through the books uninterrupted. I wasn’t panicked losing them in a sea of kids and I felt like the staff was also more relaxed by the time afternoon rolled around. I also felt like I could keep our visit shorter than a morning trip but still leave feeling fulfilled.
- Hats off to the homeschooling mamas.
We have several friends and some family members who are pursuing homeschooling. I have a lot of thoughts and feelings on homeschooling but I’m not really sure how or when to share them (or if I want to post about them in this format). All of that to say – I really, really enjoyed our learning experiences and adventures at home AND I was also really, really, really tired. I’m not entirely sure that personality wise if homeschooling will be the route we go but I am seriously impressed with all the moms (and dads!) out there who pursue homeschooling for their families. It is a vocation in every sense of the word and you guys are rockstars.
- I would do it again.
All in all – meltdowns, unpreparedness, activity mishaps, not to mention everything related to pregnancy, moving, and packing – I would still do it again and have already had thoughts about next summer. It was really fun and a special experience to dig in deep with my kids and it helped to have structure in our days. We were left with a lot of fun memories and crafts and my kids were ultimately happy which is what matters the most. One a side note: we decided to not sign up our kiddos for Religious Education at our church this year and I have already started working on some RE at home lesson plans that I am really excited about!If you missed my original post for Dallas Moms Blog be sure to check it out. Let me know if you joined in on the Summer Camp at Home fun – I would love to hear about your experiences! I know that at home art projects and activities is everyone’s parental cup of tea but I really encourage you to try and connect with your children somehow through learning – whether that be taking a class together, reading thematic books from the library, or tackling an art project. Learning adventures together are truly a bonding experience!