Our Plans for a Regular Old Summer Day

Year-round schooling is my style. I thrive in the sweet terrarium of structure and accomplishment.

My children, on the other hand, need a nice, long break from the monotony thrill of a rigorous academic schedule. Besides, our summer schedule is gladly full of friends, outdoor adventures, vacation, and camps, so it’s not realistic to expect school-work-as-usual.

When we are home, I like to keep a general daily schedule so the kids know what to expect. I’ve discovered that even summer vacation thrives with a little structure, so that everything hums along. The younger they are, the more passionate I am about having them read, write, and reason a bit each day. (Personal history proves that a 3-day weekend – let alone a 3-month vacation – can make a Kindergartner write their 5’s backwards after working so hard to write them correctly. Ack! That hurts. So, we keep things like “5’s” fresh through the summer.)

Here’s our “Regular Ole’ Summer Day” plan.

Play until Breakfast.

8 o’clock: Breakfast

Outdoor chores (Before the sun!)

9ish – 10ish a.m. The Playful Pioneer

We’ve just begun a beautiful and fun curriculum that takes young students through The Little House on the Prairie Books w/ activities, crafts, recipes, coloring, and Copywork. It’s meant for K-3, but my older girls begged to be let in on the fun. I’ll be sharing more about this soon. Stay tuned.

10ish – 11ish a.m. “Snack and Stuff”

We’ll all grab a snack and then… The older girls want to keep up with their math and practice their music or ballet. They’re both writing stories for The Secret Keep Girl Story-Writing Contest, so they use this time to work on that.

Meanwhile, I play with Malachi and Audrey, aiming to help Malachi do some math, reading, and writing as we play. My top 5 ideas: “Toy Store”, “Sunday School,” “Camp,” “Train Station,” and “Restaurant”.

11ish – 12ish p.m. Free time

12ish – 1ish p.m. Lunch/ Free time

1ish – 2ish p.m. Quiet Reading Hour

2ish – 3ish p.m. Read-aloud + an Art Project or a Game

I love this special time just with my older 3. We’ve read so many wonderful books together, painted many watercolors, and played many games. Just yesterday, Malachi and I won a game of Rummikub. 🙂

3ish – 3:30 p.m. Indoor Chores

3:30 – 5 p.m. Free time until dinner

All of that free time is beautiful for children! They can run and play and create! But, I must admit that all of that free time gives me the jitters. I don’t mind a dose of boredom that results in discovery and play, but I do mind boredom that results in complaining, snack-begging, and aimlessness. (Two-sides of the same coin!)

Our kids love to play outside and can spend hours with Playmobil or LEGOS, it’s just a matter of getting them going sometimes.  So for a quick reference, I made a list of fun things they can do and posted it on the fridge. If they need an idea, there it is. The list is full of everything you’d expect: playdoh, dolls, bubbles, clay…

My biggest concern is myself:  I can flat-out wilt under the intensity of unstructured time. To appease myself, I posted a 2nd list on the fridge: a list of “You ACCOMPLISHED something!” ideas for myself. (I used Pam Barnhill’s free Summer printables.)

I’m sure that most of that “free time” will be taking care of business, getting supplies for little ones, applying sunscreen on four little noses, restoring peace to the universe, and patching up boo boos. BUT, for those rare moments when I have free time and don’t know how to begin, I can glance at my list for an idea to make the most of my opportunity. 🙂


When it comes to community and online summer reading programs, I tend to fail.

I don’t know why.

They are just so hard.

The lists, the entries, the prizes… I try to juggle the Summer Reading Program Ball, but it’s one I keep dropping. So for the past few summers, I’ve just created our own Family Reading Challenge.

This year, I compiled a list of good books that are also good movies. Read a book from the list and we’ll watch the movie! Easy and fun.

I tried to include titles that are both good books and good movies. Want the plan for your own fridge? Here’s a copy that you can edit according to your particular family’s taste. Just click here: A Book and a Movie: Summer Reading Fun.

What goes on at your house on a regular old summer day?







8 responses to “Our Plans for a Regular Old Summer Day”

  1. Becca Seewald Avatar
    Becca Seewald

    While these are interesting suggestions, I am grateful that my parents allowed me the freedom to enjoy summer vacations my own way. It sounds as though the micromanaging could do your children more harm than good in the long run. I understand that you find it difficult to find fulfillment if you are not running every aspect of their lives- but remember to let kids be kids!

    1. Laura Avatar

      Sometimes when I blog, I forget that many of my readers don’t know me or my kiddos. So, I often write in a tongue-in-cheek manner and am more dramatic just to spice things up, but I forget that you may not know the other side. I did take your words to heart, Becca, but I also want to reassure you that I intentionally pursue a wholehearted, beautiful childhood for my kiddos, with lots of free-time, creativity, and wonder. We live on a farm out in the country and they are continually imagining, playing, exploring, and inventing. I don’t know if you have children or not, but I find that a consistent schedule is helpful – especially for little ones, especially to protect the rich childhood that I want them to have. Because we don’t have screens, or screen time, 5 hours of free time/ day is a LOT of time to fill creatively for a 3- and 5- year old. While I would never want to micromanage, I do want to be their loving mother who guides, trains, and builds them up. 🙂

  2. Jamie Avatar

    I completely agree Laura. Some structure in my children’s day helps them appreciate their free time and use it more wisely.
    Doing science in the summer has worked well for us. We love Apologia’s Young Explorer series and have worked through all of them in the past few years. We usually start in May and end sometime in October. It gives the girls something to keep them reading, writing and learning and frees up some time in the school year to delve more deeply into another subject. This year I had planned to go through the Astronomy book again, adding some extra books for the older two, but a sudden fascination with birds has us mixing and matching and looking up! We can identify birds in the daytime and constellations at night!
    Of course, we also try to keep a steady discipline of Bible time and daily reading aloud, usually with several books pertaining to our science studies. Last week’s company did throw a wrench in all my good intentions, so now we are working on getting back on track!

  3. Becca Seewald Avatar
    Becca Seewald

    I understand your need for structure- and I didn’t mean to be offensive! I do have children, and to me, this hour by hour on a daily basis schedule is suffocating… what if your children would rather read at 10:00 am instead of 1:00 pm? I am just saying, a little room to breathe never hurt anyone and dictating their minute by minute schedule worries me a bit. As a mother, I want my children to feel self-competent in making their own decisions and while I definitely supervise them and provide enriching activities. If your children are home-schooled to begin with, they don’t really have any “time off.” I am a fan of your blog but this just seems like a bit much and I worry about how they will adapt as adults when they are left to their own…

  4. Laura Avatar

    Thanks for clarifying, Becca. I wasn’t offended, but I did see that I needed to explain things better. Thank you for pointing that out. 🙂

    At this season in our lives, I kinda do need that daily rhythm in place for myself and my kids. Our baby naps from 9 – 11 and 1-3, so I have to maximize those napping hours. That’s when our home is calmest, and I’m most likely to be available and attentive. Not to mention, I really need that quiet reading hour from 1 – 2 for personal time. So, for now, I need to be very intentional about how/ when we do things to make the most of those napping hours.

    Thanks for your concern about my kiddos. I, too, want them to thrive as adults and I can see that there are ways in which I may be unintentionally jeopardizing that. I’m doing my best, but I know that they’ll have things that they need to forgive, learn, and adapt to as they go along. Pray for them when you think of them?

    May all of our children thrive in the Lord, as He cares for them in the context of their home life and our best efforts as mamas.

  5. Shari Avatar

    Hi Laura!
    LOVED this post!!

    I’ve been looking into year ’round schooling and was wondering how y’all handle it. One friend of mine does 6 weeks on and 1 week off throughtout the year with time off for holidays. Another friend just does school and takes time off whenever- no set time for days off, just as needed or wanted. How do y’all do it?


  6. Shari Avatar

    Also, I look forward to hearing how you use
    the Playful Pioneers. Will you use it for all ages??

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