June 2, 2015

School's Out


Well at least we will--when it warms up around here.  This weekend the daytime temperatures were in the 50's.  I refuse to turn the heat back on, but this morning the thermostat read 61 degrees!  No worries, summer will get here when it gets here.  While the boys have finished school, I am still teaching for a few more days.

It's not an easy adjustment from school to summer.  In the past, it's been more difficult for me.  I had to adjust my expectations.  Summer break used to mean free time, long walks and uninterrupted crafting or reading.  As a mom it means (in random order) making three meals a day (plus snacks), policing screen time, chauffeuring/coordinating activities, a daily load of laundry, sticky floors and keeping little ones coated with SPF and bug spray.  It's actually more relaxing to teach middle schoolers.   But unlike previous summers, I'm going into this one with my eyes wide open.  It's going to be a lot of work.
Last Day of Kindergarten
I'm more worried about my boys' transition to unstructured, unschooled days.  Their behavior is already showing signs of stress.  As much as we all wanted a release from the strict routine of parochial school, that routine provided a certain comfort level.  

While summer does not resemble a free-for-all in our family, it does have much less predictability and structure.  (I must remember to display our dry erase weekly calendar--that seems to help the boys manage our days.)  There are plenty of rules around here for school vacation.  Some new and specific, many that we have all year long.  It's just going to take time to adjust expectations (theirs, mine and ours). 

It was so much easier when there was a strict, no nonsense teacher in the room and a principal down the hall.  Plus, I suspect that my boys thrive on being compared behaviorally with their peers.  In teacher-speak, that's a norm-referenced assessment.    They are praised as role-models and then continue pleasing teachers by being uber-compliant.  At home, there's no bell curve.  It's a criterion-referenced assessment.  They either meet individual expectations or they don't.  And the expectations aren't easy or intuitive.  If they were, I wouldn't have to create a chart. 

There's also that dreaded brain drain.  Actually, I don't worry much about that.  Henry reads all the time.  Liam has a very inquisitive mind and learns by putting his hands to work.  I did, however, create these learning bins--mostly so I could have an hour or so to hear myself think each afternoon.  Liam needs practice with printing and I'd love to see Henry work on his written expression.  In reality, they will probably do more math than any other subject.  Numbers are big with my boys.

We have two road trips planned.  Again, not vacations for me but adventures for the boys combined with  long overdue family visits.  (We didn't travel at all last summer.)  There will be lots of learning as we see different parts of the country and practice our best house guest manners.  

I used to have two Pinterest boards--JuneJulyAugust and Let's Do This Now.  I would load them up with things I expected to accomplish on summer break.  Fun, exciting, developmentally appropriate.  It was all too much. Mid-August came and went with very little to show for the summer except a few big ticket items like amusement parks, beaches and zoos.  So this year, I've set four goals (and yes, I made a chart for myself).  I will teach Liam to tie his shoes, ride his bike and sleep in his bunkbed all night long.  Both boys will learn to sew buttons.  Eclectic list, right?  Sure, but those are the things I have deemed worthy of our time this summer.  Oh, and ice cream.  Lots of ice cream.  And watermelon.  And swimming.  And county fairs....


  1. It is freezing here in NYC too if that makes you feel any better!! It is so interesting that summer is stressful and now that you explain it I can see why. My hat is off to you. After almost a week home with Elsie due to illness, I was ready to go back to daycare/work!!

  2. It's been in the upper 80s here already. yuck.

    A part of me is a little envious of your summer off. And a part of me is really glad I don't have to spend weeks and weeks at home with them. Before having kids, I never would have thought I would say that second sentence.

  3. I love how well organized you are. I will definitely borrow some of your ideas to use at our house

  4. I cannot imagine that it's still cold in other parts of the country. Like Shannon we're roasting. It's 10pm and it's 81 degrees outside still.

    I am envious of your unstructured, free summer as well. Summer is my crazy busy time, so I get minimal time off with Tate. Thankfully i have Fridays off, so we can take some 3 day weekends together. Do your boys do any camps during the summer; all my SAHM friends and teacher mom friends have their kids in camps for at least part of the summer. I think it saves all their sanity. I'm a huge proponent of unstructured summers though...I've been sure to have at least half of Tate's camp be half day, so he can come home and just play. Can't wait to hear about y'all's time together!!!