Do you make your kids work of over summer break? I do.
But it’s not what you think. I’m not breaking any child labor laws–don’t worry. :)
What I’m talking about is not making my kids earn an extra buck here and there (although they do like to do that at Grandma’s house!). Instead, it’s about teaching them the value of hard work, avoiding summer learning loss, and teaching them that it’s not okay to be lazy. I usually have to go round after them doing everything again as they’re not as thorough as I like to be, for example they never get all the cat hair up with the vacuum, despite it being designed specifically for it (read more about my favourite pet vacuums here if you have issues trying to get your home clean), so I’m not doing it for my own benefit either.
Don’t get me wrong–they get plenty of time to play, watch TV, play on the computer, play on their tablets, and play with their friends. But, as blogs like https://www.compt-aam.org/ point out, the task of keeping the house clean shouldn’t be down to just one person in the family. What we’ve done is put a system in place that allows them to balance both work and play. Here’s how it works:
At the beginning of the summer, we sat the kids down and explained how everything works. This works on a point system, and for every three points they earn, they are allowed 1/2 an hour of computer time, 1/2 an hour of tablet time, and 1 movie each day. They can also cash in points for a special treat or activity. But before they can cash in any of their points, they must complete the following:
- Feed the pets (Rapunzel feeds the fish and the cat; Princess Anna feeds the dog)
- Help unload the dishwasher
- 1-2 items per day as instructed by Mom (this can be sorting through toys, cleaning the play room, cleaning the bathrooms, sweeping, dishes, etc.)
Each Wednesday, their rooms are inspected. Because we have to walk through their bedroom to get to our bedroom, it’s always a pain to walk through the little girls’ bedroom. Otherwise, we may not be so strict on the bedroom. They can earn up to 10 points for a perfectly clean room or, if they choose not to clean their room, they don’t get any points (and they don’t get screen time until it’s done!). Here’s what they need to do to “pass” inspection. They receive two points for each item completed:
- Beds must be made
- No more than 5 stuffed animals in your bed (they get really out of hand with their stuffed animals!)
- No books on the floor (must be on shelf)
- No toys on the floor (must be in bins)
- No clothes on the floor (must be in hamper)
Our kids are assigned one worksheet each day to complete as review work to prevent summer learning loss. If turned in on the day it is given them, they can earn 2 points. They earn only 1 point for each assignment that is turned in a day late. If they turn it in any later than that, they will not receive any points for that assignment.
They are also expected to participate in learning a memory verse each week, journal for 10 minutes each day, and read for 10-15 minutes each day. They are allowed to earn additional points for good behavior, like helping out without being asked or saying something kind to a sibling.
Lastly, we expect them to participate in letterboxing. They really don’t like all the walking, but the benefits totally outweigh their complaints. Last week we saw a huge nest of caterpillars and got the chance to eat some wild blackberries. We also like to chase butterflies, find new animals, and picnic when we’re out for the day. Not only is this a learning opportunity for the kids, but also gets them out and about, exercising for anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour.
How do we fit it all in?
Some days, we just don’t. And that’s okay. I still have to grocery shop, sometimes they’ll be at camp, and I don’t have them work on weekends. On the typical day, we operate on somewhat of a schedule:
- We generally have about two hours in the morning to get chores done if they wake up early enough. I do let them sleep as long as they need to. If their daily chore is a big project, we’ll work on it through the afternoon, but usually it can be done in the morning hours.
- If it’s a Tuesday, Thursday, or Friday, we’ll take the kids letterboxing. If it rains, we won’t, but if it’s a good day we’ll head out with our water bottles, some sunscreen, the kids sunglasses like these from Felix Gray which couple up as blue light glasses (perfect for their screen time) and depending on where we’re headed, a picnic lunch.
- When we get back from letterboxing, or when we’re done doing chores, we take an hour to work on worksheets, journal, read, and have some general quiet time. Whenever they’re finished, they can have their screen time or just play.
Every day isn’t perfect. I don’t always get them to do everything I’d like. But the important thing is that we’re teaching them how to balance work and play as well as the importance of hard work, learning, reading, writing, and taking care of their bodies. And as long as we’re trying, that’s okay.
How do you make the most of summer?