Homeschool Organization: Summer Learning with Large Families
The expression “the more the merrier” rings especially true in the case of summer learning. If you have a large family, you probably watch your purse strings closely. It’s also likely you’ve already discovered there aren’t enough hours in the day to take each child to all the activities he or she might like. Summertime can bring with it financial pressure and feelings of being stretched thin. Fortunately, knowing how to enjoy a good time is a prominent feature of many large families. Siblings might stage a theatrical production, play team sports or take on a major building project all while developing important cooperation and communication skills.
- Hang a family calendar in a central place the whole family can see. Having a clear sense of the week ahead helps older children make their plans for activities outside the home without much assistance. Use a colored marker to indicate the hours you are available to transport kids to miscellaneous events that arise during the week. This will keep everyone organized and it will help your children manage their expectations.
- The family calendar will succeed best if everyone has a hand in maintaining it. Encourage your children to add notes when they see the need. Discuss calendar updates and changes at dinner to prepare for the following day of fun.
- Establish a routine. Children (especially little ones) respond well when they know what to expect. Keeping the routine fluid, fun and flexible is important. It is still summer, after all!
- Limit activities. Remind everyone that quality—not quantity—matters most. Ask yourself and your family how much time is too much time to spend chauffeuring family members from one activity to another. The outcome of this discussion may be that younger children agree on one activity or decide to double up with a sibling to attend special programs. Older siblings with a license may want to assist with transportation.
- Meal preparation for large families takes time. Lighten your load by keeping meals simple and asking the kids for help. This is a great area to implement summer learning goals. If your young children aren’t already helping with meals, summer is the perfect time for them to master some basic culinary skills. To make this fun, create cooking challenges like who can come up with the best meal using only leftovers from the fridge. Older kids will enjoy specialty meals such as a foreign cuisine or a style of baking. If you are lucky enough to have a child who wants to take charge of the garden, mealtime is a place where she can really shine. Let her plan meals that highlight the food she is growing. Artistic kids have fun making centerpieces and arranging the table in new ways. Fun kitchen habits developed over the summer are likely to continue on long after you put away the swimsuits and flip-flops for the season.
- Large families travel, too! Check out the website Six Suitcase Travel, an online resource filled with cost-saving travel offers for large families. http://www.sixsuitcasetravel.com/
Most large families I spoke with agreed that keeping expectations realistic and households organized were key components of a successful summer learning plan. The ideas above will benefit any family who follows them, but they are especially helpful for large families managing multiple schedules and summer learning plans.
For additional summer learning ideas, check out The Summertime Survival Guide.