How We Plan Our Summer as a Homeschool Family

Anyone else hit summer and look for ways to have some structure but not over-structure? Me. I am anyone else. Homeschool ends, and then I feel overwhelmed – “What do I do for summer?!” I want my children to feel like they are more relaxed, and to be able to differentiate from homeschool. We will not do any formal full lessons and I will give them time to be bored because boredom is not a bad thing. I do not want the summer to pass and also feel like we have done nothing.

I have three children, 12, 7 and 4. I included them in the planning and set specific goals for each day. Now these goals will not rule our whole schedule as vacations, summer camps and other events will definitely happen but we will have a loose plan for each day. I am not sure about you but by breakfast each day my kids are asking “what are we doing today?” and they are typically not satisfied with “nothing.”

Here is what our summer schedule looks like for the months of July and August. Mondays are zoo mornings (we get a membership to the local one each year), Tuesdays are pool afternoons (we have a small pop up one otherwise it would be dedicated water play outside). Wednesdays are mornings the the museum (again we have a membership to the local children’s museum but we will also explore our other museums as well). Thursdays we will visit the library and a park nearby hosts picnics in the park with family entertainment for free. Fridays are our adventure day, we will be checking a new local park or two (we will also blog and rate our experience for those local to Erie County Pennsylvania).

Using the Notability app on my iPhone I created these fun color coded calendars (I also use similar ones for our homeschool year), I then took advantage of the $0.99 magnet deal on the Shutterfly app to create magnets as a reminder for the fridge.

This helps us have an intentional and focused summer not being limited by what we plan, but if we feel like we have nothing to do it helps to have a plan already! Let me know your tricks to keep summer fun and easy for your kiddos.

x. earnest mom

Rate My Park – Summer Series

An Earnest Experience in Erie County Pennsylvania

All summer long, Fridays will be designated to exploring parks in Erie County PA and rating them!  The Earnest Littles and I are having a blast park hopping and seeing what is out there!  Each post will give a final rating out of 10 for the overall park and then we will break down the categories.  For each park we are looking at equipment, cleanliness, bathroom options, parent spots and picnic facilities.

Please note, the opinions given in this post/rating are our opinions alone and do not speak for the parks, the townships or anyone else.  Our intent is to give a glimpse of our experience and how much we, as a family liked the park.

McKean Community Recreational Park, 8798 Main St, McKean PA 16426

Overall Rating 8/10.  This park is large, it has a nice sized parking lot, baseball diamonds, other large sporting fields and a walking track.  It is a lovely, open green space with a nice breeze and a lovely Veteran Memorial.  All in all, we really liked this park, while we were there the kids were quick to make friends with a family who frequents, and they were so kind to invite us back to play.  We recommend checking out this park for some free fun in Erie County PA this summer!

Equipment:  The playground has a decent size climber complete with three slides, monkey bars, a crawl tube, bridge, a sliding pole and fun climbing options.  The ground cover appears to be older mulch so there was a complaint from the seven-year-old (and contributed to her rating of one thumb up and one thumb down) that she kept getting dirt in her crocs.  There is a swing section that has both belt swings and full bucket baby swings.  Ground cover also appeared to be older wooden mulch. The equipment is slightly dated in our opinion, but that did not stop is from being a fun place to play.

Cleanliness:  The park was very clean.  There was a little bit of litter from recent visitors who left their trash Juice boxes and napkins) after it got blown away from them, however there are plenty of trash cans located all over the park that allows for easy access and helps to keep it clean.  The equipment itself is kept up well, with natural wear from use it was pleasantly clean as well.

Bathrooms:  There is a decent bathroom building available for use (it was open when we were at the park).  It was fully stocked with toilet paper and soap at the sinks.  They appear to have at least two toilets per restroom (Men’s or Women’s) both equipped with a handicap option. 

Parent Spots: There are PLENTY of benches located right by the playground, a few even had shade from some nearby trees.  The benches were located all around the playground equipment as well, lots of options!

Picnic Facilities: There are so many picnic options here.  Two large pavilions (one with kitchen facilities and a ton of seating) with many wooden picnic tables fully shaded and had grills (both decently close enough to the playground) and one small one that has one wooden picnic table with handicap access.

Stay tuned for our next review.  Live in Erie County?  Have you been to this park?  What are your thoughts?

An Earnest Attitude of Gratitude.

Status

It is November. We have Friendsgiving and Thanksgiving that we host every year and so quickly I can get distracted by the planning (I like to really plan with a lot of care and thought our Friendsgiving to create an intimate time for the group of us that have been celebrating for the past 3 years). I am seeing on social media, people posting thankful anecdotes daily, which is so refreshing to read when I decide to scroll – especially when I haven’t been online for a few days and all the thankful posts pile up! Some have been known to cause a few tears in my own eyes.

I feel like while I am mama, teacher, cook, tidy-upper, help mate and all the other hats that I juggle through my days I miss being thankful for my life, abilities and the little things!

Someone once told me it could simply be a matter of switching up the narrative in my head. when my days get busy (especially lately when home inspection calls are non stop some days), I get caught up in the stress of what I have to get done. Earnest dad will come home after a long day of inspecting and maybe hunting, and he wants to relax. All I can see is what we have to do and I quickly get overwhelmed. There are days he comes home early and the moment I see him, I immediately think of my have to list and I don’t stop to even greet him. (I feel awful saying it but it is true).

The word of God says,

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
2. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
3. Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
5. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Psalm 100: 1-5

Be thankful to him, for the Lord is good and his mercy is everlasting. These words were life to me this week.

We use a curriculum that we print monthly – and it is a lot of printing! Well we start a new unit TODAY and because of the busyness and time spread everywhere, I started printing last night. And last night, nothing was going right. With lack of sleep (thanks daylight savings), homeschooling, business phone calls and energetic kids I was done. I felt, as Bilbo Baggins so eloquently put it, “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.” My patience, calm and thankful tanks were on empty. I went to bed and as I fell asleep I remembered the words, attitude of gratitude.

As I got up this morning feeling resting, my youngest little laid on the ground with his little fingers reaching under the door and began singing one of my favorite hymns. In my head I hear, attitude of gratitude. I go to get my morning vitamins and breaks and my little guy climbs up to sit on the counter with me (I was with him the whole time) and brewed me my k-cup (again with my support). Again, I am reminded attitude of gratitude. I need to change my narrative.

Here I sit, with my printer trying to print our workbooks we should already be working out of and there is a paper jam. Then mid print job, it cancels itself. No error information, no reason that I can see. Attitude of gratitude. So I changed the narrative. Today for homeschool we will read stories together, we will clean up the house together, we will do our supplemental subjects already printed and ready to go. We will go outside and get some vitamin D and watch our favorite squirrel at the park as he buries his acorns in planning for his winter survival. Today we will do what we can with what we have. That is all that we ever have.

Instead of telling myself I have to, today I will remind myself that I get to. I get to school my children in my home because my husband works hard and the Lord blesses us. I get to clean up with my children because all of us are healthy and able. We get to go the to park because we have an amazing set up less than a block away in our quiet neighborhood. I get to work with my technology because we have the ability to own the necessities to do so.

I sit here, printer in error state, some kids not clothed running about the house with more screen time than I would like. But we get to do all of this because of the blessings that we have in our lives. This earnest home, family and life we have is such a privilege and honor, I am working daily to keep in an attitude of gratitude and to not let the sideways, caught off guard messes throw me off. Let November be the month you work to gain gratitude, then keep it all year long. Not because you have to, but because you earnestly get to.

x. earnest mom.