Now that that Great American Road Trip is behind us, it’s time to look forward to the rest of the summer. When we were kids, my wife and I both enjoyed relaxing summers at home. We wanted our kids to experience this as well, but since we both work, we weren’t sure it was in the cards.
Up until this point in our kids lives, we haven’t really had to think about it. When they were in daycare and preschool, we didn’t have to do anything different for the summer. Daycare was year round and the preschool they went to had a summer program. However, now that they are both in elementary school we are faced with needing to find a summer option for them.
We each only work a four-day week, we arranged this with our employers when we had our first son. This allowed us to only have them in childcare for 3 days out of the week. When they started elementary school, we enjoyed the extra day to ourselves and kept it.
This means that we were only looking to fill 3 days a week. Since our road trip took up half of the month of June, we only
needed to find a place for them for 2 ½ months.
As we began to explore our options, I started breaking down the costs of having them in a summer program versus the cost of continuing to work throughout the summer. After crunching the numbers, it turned out it’d be cheaper to keep them home through the summer.
However, taking that much time off work would be difficult. So we sat down with our calendar. Between the flexibility of my job, a few strategic days off throughout the summer by my wife and the generosity of our moms we were able to cover the entire summer.
One of the things that I had liked about their previous summer programs was the integration of education. Even though they were scheduled for a ton of fun summer activities, they still worked on some core educational skills (writing, reading, math).
If they were to be home all summer I didn’t want their brains to stagnate. So I’ve come up with a few activities I’d like to get in most days I’m home with them:
- Reading Time
- Outdoor Activity*
- Coloring/Writing Activity
- Special Lesson**
* Outdoor Activities Include – basketball, soccer, tennis, playground, biking, scavenger hunt, walk/hike
**’Special Lesson’ is a lesson I put together to teach them something I think will be valuable. Examples: Money Lessons, Cooking Lessons, Home Repair (not my strength, but we’ll see), History Lessons, etc.
The goal isn’t to be overly rigid; I don’t plan on watching the clock to ensure we stay on schedule. Rather I want to provide some kind of structure to the day. From my experience this helps the day go by a bit faster while at the same time ensuring the kids are having fun and learning a little along the way.
I’ll implement this schedule for the last couple of weeks of June and if it isn’t going over well, we’ll scrap it. The focus of the summer will be fun activities, but if I can integrate some learning in their as well, I’ll consider that a nice bonus.
In addition to managing the day to day, I also like to have bigger picture goals for the kids throughout the summer. Last summer it was to read 100 books/chapters for each of them. We also set the goal for my oldest to learn to ride his bike without training wheels and to learn to tie his shoes. (The former was a success, the latter was technically a success, but mastery wasn’t achieved.)
This summer we’ll keep the 100-book/chapter challenge. We’ll also revisit the goal of shoe tying for both boys. Additionally, I’d also like my youngest to be able to tell time on an analog clock.
I’ve already spent a few days home with the kids and so far I’ve been loving it. They haven’t been to bothered by the reading and math work I’ve encouraged them to do. And getting them out and playing for hours each day has made bed time a bit easier.
I’ll write a summary of all of my observations about the experience at the end of the summer, but a week and a half in and I like my role as part time summer at home dad.