I absolutely love school holidays and the long summer ones are almost my favourite (can’t beat Christmas!). I love the nature of something different everyday and not being tied to a schedule. No pack lunches organise or uniforms to prep. No homework to fuss over or clubs to ferry the children too. Simply taking each day as it comes and enjoying down time.
It’s not always been this free and easy. Most summer holidays since the boys started school, I have made plans. I’ve had a theme to get them to learn about (last year it was the seaside) and I’ve tried to have some structure to our days. I’ve made the boys read, write and complete some form of maths before letting them play or go out. Not this year. With my eldest about to start juniors and knowing his free time will be limited, I decided not to plan. To encourage reading and writing, but not to make it compulsory. My boys do well at school and enjoy learning so I decided to let them take the lead and to embrace what I’ve always believed – children learn through play and exploration.
Another I change I made this summer was around our summer scrap book. I buy one every summer with the intention of filling it with memories of our summer. I always intend to fill it with information about where we’ve been and what we’ve done, supported by drawings the boys have done during the holidays and adding photographs in to. The problem is, we’re so busy that I usually print photos at the end of the holidays and nothing every makes it into the scrap book. So again, I took a different approach. I bought the scrap book, explained the purpose of it to the boys and have left it out for them to add things to it as and when they want to. I’ve been surprised! It’s almost full without me having added anything. Of course I will add some photographs, but I love it. It is entirely their memories of summer and they have drawn pictures and written things about their summer, the things that have meant something to them. It makes it even more special and will be lovely to look back on.
I relaxed one other rule too – although admittedly not everyday. When it comes to technology, I can be quite tough – 20 minutes of the Ipad is the usual limit. However, I do acknowledge that they can be tools for learning too. So, instead of being so strict, I relaxed the rules a little. I allowed them free access to various screens during the day when we were at home (we go out a lot). What did I find? My eldest used the screens a lot – for a couple of days. But, with unlimited access, his desire to play it dwindled fairly quickly. Playing the same thing for a long time over a couple of days leads to it becoming boring. It wasn’t exciting anymore. My middle boy isn’t AA big fan of screens anyway, but he did play a little more frequently at the start of the summer – again it dwindled fairly quickly. However, he has used it as a tool in the last 2 days to learn to tell time – something he is picking up quickly! The youngest one loves a screen, just like his eldest brother, but following the others, his interest dwindled in 48 hours. I learnt something here that I should have already known. Having something freely available takes away the excitement. In our case, it has taken away the need for me to monitor screens all the time (except on long journeys when the 3 have to take turns!). I’m not sure this rule will stay relaxed during the school week, but it will definitely be around on the weekend and other school holidays.
We’ve spent a lot of time outdoors over the summer, even with the torrential rain we’ve endured! We’ve explored museums, parks, castles and beaches. We’ve visited jungle gyms and had a couple of mini breaks. We’ve met with friends and spent lots of time with family. We’ve been creative and had lots of fun in the garden. Some of our best days have involved nothing more than splashing in the paddling pool. I’ll be writing some individual blog posts in the near future about the places we have visited too. And even with no advanced planning, they’ve all still read plenty of books, written things and kept up with maths like times tables. I’ve learnt a lot this summer and more importantly, I’ve had a blast! I’m so sad to know my boys will be back to school in 48 hours, but before I can dwell on it, I have a little boy turning 8 in less than 24 hours! But more on that another time!
How has your summer been? Have you learnt anything new? I’d love to hear all about your summer!