Summer for a Growing Mind

Summer tends to be a stressful time for me. I want to continue educating while at the same time allowing her to play with her cousins, dog, and swim to her heart’s content.

Unfortunately, it seems like I am the only person in my family who feels this way. My siblings don’t feel the need to continue the educational process year round. They feel like children should learn during the school year and play during the summer…

Therefore, I have implemented a few house rules and learned ways to sneak learning into their fun.


  1. Not before noon… while this rule started off as a joke (aka your never awake before noon), it has evolved to create a definite bubble of learning time. Her school does the “pre-k” portion during the morning (before noon) and then lunch and playtime afternoon. So I simply continue this through the summer. She can play all she wants in the afternoon but for the morning we learn.
  2. Time means something. If she or her cousins ask me for “five more minutes” or any time reference, we go and set the timer (digital for the little ones and an egg timer for the older ones) and then when it goes off they are out of time. We also use this for bedtime, lunch, dinner. When I ask “what time are you going to bed” and they say “eight” then when the clock turns eight they are to go to bed. I often ask them to tell me what the time is when we start cooking lunch or dinner.

Activities: My favorite summer activities are baking/cooking, reading programs, crafts, and free public programs.


She helps me cook every night. When the other children are around, we separate duties and make them all help out. The 9 y/o reads the instructions, the 13 y/o manages the time, and the two little ones do all the physical stuff. We also use this as an art project. They will set the table (whatever theme they want), put the food on people’s plates (although if they don’t give themselves something then they get a double helping of it), and instruct everyone where to sit (sometimes they even make us dress up to eat).

Along with cooking, they will also have “picnics” for these backyard events I make them plan and create a list of times, pack them so they don’t squish, anything they need. Once they are outside, the shop is closed and if they forgot something too bad.

 Reading Programs

There are a lot of one’s out there and depending on the child I pick the one(s) that work with them… for the elder children, I usually do a incentive program… read this/get that.



I try to pick crafts about things we are doing. So if we are going to go see a $1 movie “The Lorax” then we did crafts about plants. We planted sunflower seeds and did gardening, bought strawberry plants, citronella plants, and discussed how plants affect us. We made bracelets from the husks of palms. When we went to the zoo we made animal masks and watch animal movies.


Free Programs –

Basically, I just scoured the web for free activities. My favorite site is

Then I usually pick either one a week or every other week and take her.


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