At the end of each school year, I pencil out a simple, summer schedule. Mostly full of hopes for our summer and a tiny bit of intentional learning. This year, I’m keeping it even more simple than ever before. Because I’ve learned something this year. I don’t want more, I want more in our less. I want to pick some really good stuff and spend some really good time with it. That’s it. I know it’s enough. So, here’s my plan:
1. Read Swiss Family Robinson. Guys, if you haven’t read this classic yet, get yourself a copy asap. Especially if your children love exploring, travel, and animals. Or perhaps, maybe more so if they don’t! Because they should, and this book will help them fall in love with adventure. And don’t tell them right away, but they’ll learn so much in the process too. Like which plants are edible, how to use porcupine skin, and what you really need to live. Not to mention geography, animal science, survival skills, and scripture application. I love this family and wish I could join them in their adventures for just a little. Read this book and your family just might want to get stranded for a while too.
Side note: The original book is authored in German by Johann Wyss and many English translations and edits came later. We found two copies secondhand with different illustrators, but both edited by William H.G. Kingston. From my understanding, his was one of the original versions translated directly from the German. We are very satisfied with this version, but in reviews I have seen John Seelye’s version more highly esteemed. If I come across an edition by him, I’d probably buy it to compare. Having said all of that, be aware that the version can effect the story and I think you’d certainly want as little changed from the original if possible. I’ve linked to the best version I can find on Amazon, but secondhand stores might be your better bet in finding one you’ll delight in.
2. Set up a sponsorship board. Our family sponsors five children from different areas with Compassion International and World Vision. One for each of our children. We have faithfully financially supported them, but not invested enough time in writing notes or getting to know them. We’ve done it some, but after reading this post I know we need to do more. There’s so much benefit to both sides. We’ve used a 3-ring binder before, but my plan now is to use a bulletin board in our home to pin their pictures and notes. Then I’ll work with my littles to draw a map of their countries, list the facts we know about them (age, birthdate, interests, etc), and pin recent correspondence. Then I’ll ask each of my littles to create five things over the summer to send to their sponsor buddy: a. a drawing of an animal, b. a printing of one of their favorite Bible verses, c. a handwritten letter, d. teach them about something they enjoy (baseball, ballet, etc), and e. an activity for their buddy (think connect the dot, maze, paint by water, etc). I’ll help my younger guys by writing their notes for them, and maybe finding a coloring page for their animal rather than a drawing. Then we’ll send these little by little over the next couple months to their buddy.
And that’s it! Those are my summer plans. And of course, the traditional swimming, unscheduled days, loads of baseball, trips to the shore, playing outside till dark, and lots of ice cream. But within those simple plans, we’re covering Bible, literature, geography, spelling, handwriting, science, grammar, and math. All while simply immersing ourselves in things we already enjoy. To me, it’s the perfect recipe for summer enjoyment. How can this work for your family? 1. Find a really good book that matches your interests. If you’re not sure where to start, look here for great book suggestions. And 2. Make time for something you love that didn’t make the regular schedule this year. For us, that’s being more active with our sponsored children. Perhaps for you, it’s more community service or gardening.