Thursday, April 23, 2015

Our Summer Schedule

 I've written about out partly-schoolish, partly-vacationish summer plans in past years.  Our plans this summer look much the same.

We actually started summer break at the end of March and will start up lessons again the first week of July.  We took completely off for Holy Week through the Easter Octave, and we'll fit a little vacation in there somewhere too.  

For the rest of summer, we'll keep some daily and weekly schoolwork in our routine:

:: I modified the kids' school-year checklist to accommodate three days of daily subjects each week.  

So three times a week, they'll take about an hour first thing in the morning to do...
copywork - five minutes, in cursive
mapwork - five minutes, review map of choice
Italian activity - five minutes, a review activity they can do together without my help
math - short lesson or set of problems

They also have piano practice, hygiene, and chores on their list (all daily) and a few weekly items: nature journal entry (we continue our outing and journaling session through the summer), and piano theory and art homework (given by their piano and art teachers).

And together we aim to hit recitation and Italian three times a week.  For clarity, I've been splitting our memory work into two parts: "recitation," which is our review of previously-learned material, and "memory work," which is our work on new selections.  We won't be learning new items this summer--just reviewing what we already know.  And my goal in Italian this summer is to finish up our family/adjectives unit and move on to verbs.

:: We're hitting lots of read-alouds.  I usually have at least three read-alouds going at a time: two read by me and one on audio.  Summer is no different but we read through them more quickly!  Right now on audio, we're listening to the Chronicles of Narnia from beginning to end; currently we're on The Silver Chair.  And I'm reading aloud two books: right now, The Twenty-One Balloons (a Year 3 free read) and Sun Slower Sun Faster (one of the Bethlehem Books).  I think we'll hit the Swallows and Amazons books on audio next, and I'll likely start on a couple from the Year 4 list.  

:: Cate has made some good progress on learning to read without much help from me this past year, but I'm planning to sit down with her daily this summer to do a short reading lesson.  She's ready for some hands-on involvement on my part.

We also have a list of summertime priorities this year, based on my children's requests:

:: Cooking lessons.  My daughters have been begging for me to teach them to cook, and I think now is the time.  I said this last summer, actually, but this summer I really mean it! ;)  We will start with some basic kitchen skills and breakfast preparation, and then we'll move on to some easier snacks and meals.  Before fall comes, I'd like to at least turn breakfast duties over to my oldest two with my 6yo as helper.

:: Chess.  The kids used to play daily with Daddy, but his work schedule changed and we haven't fit it back into the family routine except on the weekends.  We'll try to fit a bit more playing time in during the next couple months.

:: Running.  I have been running regularly for a long while now, but it has always been my time away from the kids--either solo or with a local running group.  This summer, I'd like to try to fit in a bit of running with my big kids, who are very active and eager to join me.  I just have to carve out some extra time in addition to my usual running schedule, which is already tight!

not at all related to running but so cute ;)

:: Outdoor time.  We'll still be getting out once a week with friends for some nature study; usually we stay close to home, but we have plans this summer to try a few new spots.  We're also adding to our wildflower collection and will be hitting the beach too!  I can't wait.

:: History of Me.  A few of you have asked whether we have decided on a format for the personal timelines I mentioned during my book discussion of The Living Page.  I did come up with a plan and bought the materials, and now it's just a matter of putting it together with my kids.  That was a winter break project, but life happened. ;) Now it's a summer project, and although we'll still be living life, I am hoping we can actually get it done!  When we do, I'll share.

And what I will be doing with my couple extra hours of time each day...

:: Planning Year 4 - choosing a Latin curriculum and a typing program, deciding how to schedule in dictation and written narration, charting out free reads
:: Planning Year 1 - putting together Cate's binder, printing copywork pages, considering First Holy Communion preparation
:: Planing Kindergarten - compiling a kindergarten box for Xavier, including books to read to him and activities for him to do while I'm schooling the other children
:: Planning our Family Work - choosing composers, artists, religion reading, morning basket materials, memory work, mapwork and more
:: Pulling together next year's Italian activities
:: Revamping my weekly ckecklist and my weekly planning session to accommodate multiple years
:: Reading along with our new Charlotte Mason study group (we're using Brandy's Start Here guide!) and my local book club
:: Purging and tidying here at home
:: Pondering a rearrangement of rooms to make our office space more usable for schoolwork and extracurricular lessons
:: Reconsidering chore schedules and home routines
:: Trying to get myself outdoors more often
:: Updating our Life Lists

I have a couple months of our summer schedule ahead of me and I'm so looking forward to it.  So what will your summer look like?


  1. What a lovely summer! I wish the beach was in our plans too. But the mountains are and they're much easier to access in Colorado! We still have some school left to finish up for Y1 and Y3. We school more year round with our longer break in the summer time, but not the whole summer off. Winter is long here so we get LOTS done during those months and fall is our favorite season, so we hike quite a bit and take more time off then than many others do.

    I'll be excited to see your Y4 plans. We start Y4, Y2 and Kinder in July (towards the end). I have already been getting Y4 organized. I would love to hear what y'all decide for typing/keyboard. Anything to recommend? I cannot make up my mind there. We are holding off on Latin, but doing everything else that comes along with Y4. My son is very excited for a full Shakespeare play, which surprised me, but also made me excited too. I am also looking how to fit dictation into the day. With three Years going that is requiring some thought. Fitting written narrations in was pretty easy for us, we do it two days a week and just put it in place of print copywork (20 mins each time). He still does his cursive each day, but that is a shorter time than his print copywork (less than 10 mins) so it's no big deal. He MUCH prefers written narrations over print copywork and is always trying to get me to let him do that in place of. =) I'm thinking when he switches over to a Commonplace book instead of copywork he will be quite happy. Giving timing on when to start that some thought as well.

    Oh yes, I also have been meaning to say, your children have the happiest and sweetest smiles. I always love seeing the pictures you post of them. It just leaves me with such joy. Such precious smiling faces.

    1. I will definitely have my Year 4 plans ready to go by July, so expect them sometime around then! LOL I am just wanting a very simple and preferably free typing option. I know there are a few online, so one day I'll just sit down, look at them all, and choose. My kids are going to love whichever one I pick because they are not currently allowed any screen time at all, so I figure that makes the decision pretty easy! :)

      My kids too are very excited for Shakespeare and are looking forward to written narrations too. Since they are on the young side, they have only done a few ever (maybe a handful last year, including some for exams), but they both enjoy the variety in narrating, so I don't think it will be a problem. I'm actually thinking about switching to cursive copywork only next year because they writing load is already going to increase a bit (they'll be doing some writing in foreign language, including copywork, and then written narration weekly too), but they both love adding to their "copybooks," so...I may just let them pick, or I may make it a weekly thing. The part I *am* planning to hold off on is the Book of Centuries. I think we'll just do a Century Chart for next year and wait on the BOC until Year 5 or 6. Anyway, I'm looking forward to hearing how you all are planning out things too once the time comes.

      And I can say the same of your children's sweet faces over on Instagram--they are darling!

  2. I like your ideas. I've been thinking of doing a light term this that will start with plenty of time for playing outside, but still have a structure and routine.

    1. We like the "light term" partly because we all thrive on at least a little routine even during the summer and partly because it frees up the rest of our year just slightly (we only do our daily subjects 4x weekly during the school year, for example, and we also don't have to devote time to managing "summer slide" in terms of retention and skills). But I wouldn't do any more structure than this--my kids like lots and lots of time to work on personal projects and be outdoors! :)

  3. Thanks for posting what you are doing! :) To be honest, it makes me a bit tired. ;) LOL! :) I need to finalize my plans as well...we have a PACKED summer, unfortunately, with two weddings and possibly a MOVE...sooooooooo, I'm thinking of just some free reads and enjoying the outdoors for us.

    1. *My* personal list of to-dos makes me a bit tired too--LOL! I figure that the first half of that list absolutely has to be done before we can start our school year, and the second half will depend on whether I get a burst of energy mid-summer. ;)

      And is it a big move? Moves always make life crazy!

  4. Also...I need to revisit our old memory work! My oldest LOVES when we bring them out! Good reminder!

  5. Celeste, I always love seeing what is going on over your way. And I *also* love the fact that you are just ahead of me in planning for the next year's coursework :-) It gives me time to mull things over and make some decisions based on a real-life family's experience (hee-hee!)
    Looks like your summer plans are going to be lots of fun. And, I agree, a little bit of structure during "off" times really does help keep the pace and the peace!

    1. LOL, Kristyn! I do not mind being the guinea pig, especially considering how much wonderful advice I get over at the forums--I'm just passing it along. :)

  6. This is very inspiring, Celeste! I love the weekly chart. This is my first year schooling my oldest and I've always known I didn't want to take a long vacation all summer--I want to keep some things up: reading, math, read alouds. This post gave me some very good ideas. Thanks for sharing! Love your blog!

    1. Oh! I forgot to tell you--your kids are adorable. ;)

    2. Thank you so much, Catie. :) I find the weekly chart gives us *just* enough flexibility but *just* enough structure to both enjoy and make wise use of our summer. I hope you guys enjoy your summer too!

  7. I would love to know what your Year 1 Binder looks like. My oldest starts year 1 soon and I have been wondering how to organize her binder. A section for copywork, Book of Centuries (I love yours), Nature list of sights, Way of the WIll chart, etc? But this is my first year, so I would love your experience!

    I also love how your home looks organized, simple and orderly. Would you mind sharing how to achieve this with so many littles? I think simplicity is the key but have a hard time with babies always pulling books down off shelves. Maybe even your expectations of chores for each age? Thanks for all your help!

    1. Hi Katie! Here's what's in my kids' binders, which they get in Year 1: binder timeline, copywork pages, maps for study and blank maps for practice, art drill pages, math drill pages (printed from our RightStart math program), artwork in progress, a little alphabet card to reference in print and cursive, printouts of current memory work. I think that's it! This is where they keep any in-progress work. When I put my next daughter's together, I will take a few photos and share them here. :)

      As for organization: it's really about time I updated here regarding our chore routine! Because really, the house is orderly due in large part to my kids. Having a lot of children actually *helps* me keep the house clean because even if each of us does, say, two chores daily, that adds up to a lot of cleaning! It was much harder when I only had a few littles but was doing all the daily and weekly chores pretty much by myself. Chore training for my kids has made the biggest difference to my daily workload. I will try to get a post up very soon sharing what our tidy schedules look like.

    2. Have you shared about your binder timeline before? If so, I'd love to read about it. If not, would you mind to share more about that? :)

    3. I am still a little confused about what "mapwork is. I see it mentioned in a lot of CM stuff. Also, what are "math drills?" Thanks for you help! I can't wait to see pics of your binder! :)

    4. Hi Katie,

      I'm not Celeste and her answer will be much better organized than mine, but we have kiddos the same age and both use AO and Right Start Math, so here's my 2 cents if you will. =)

      A math drill is basically practice of math facts or a math concept. So with Right Start you have your lessons where new concepts are taught and then worked on. But periodically you have math drills as well. Basically in Right Start it's worksheets with math facts to use for practice. Other forms of math drills would be Math Wrap Ups or Xtra Math online. Our family loves Xtra Math. My oldest uses it daily (in addition to our RightStart lessons) and it takes about 5 minutes. My almost 7 year old will start using it as well in the fall. Hope that helps.

      Ambleside Online has so much information about schooling in a Charlotte Mason Method on their forum. It might be worth your time to hop over there to get some info about map work or other CM questions you have. It is well organized and every lady on the forum is wonderful and so good about answering questions. Truly a good "CM Home" where you can learn, get encouragement and wonderful ideas. Maybe you've already been there? Brandy at Afterthoughts also has a wonderful series on her blog called, 31 Days of Charlotte Mason that might answer many of your questions. This is the link,

      Sorry to poke my nose in, but it's always good to meet new CM friends! Never can have too many of those. =)

    5. Hi Katie --

      Like Virginia said, RightStart has math fact worksheets for the child to do for a few minutes each day. Instead of doing those during the math lesson, we do them during our binder work session in the mornings. I keep them in page protectors in their binders and the kids use a dry-erase marker to fill in one line per day. We have also used various other drill styles: Math WrapUps, long division or multiple-digit multiplication worksheets printed from online (they might do three problems a day or some small amount like that), etc. Whatever will work to practice those math facts. I keep our math drill to less than five minutes daily. It usually takes only a couple.

      Mapwork has several different aspects in a CM education. Maps are often used to chart routes and locations for various places in the readings. We usually have a few maps going for this purpose. (For example, for Year 3 last year, I printed a map of Asia for the children to chart Marco Polo's route on as we moved through the book, and we also had a map of Europe for them to make note of cities and countries we read about in our history readings.) This kind of mapwork is suitable for both younger and older children. Older children also do "map drills," which are basically memorizing an area of the world--it could be country names, or city names, or major landmarks like rivers and mountain ranges, depending on the map. Similarly to picture study, the child looks at the map, makes a mental picture of it, then fills out a blank map with as much information as he can remember. The next day, he tries again, adding more and more detail, until he has the map memorized. So I have reference maps and blank maps in my older kids' binders too.

      And Virginia is right--the forums have so much more information there too!! :)

    6. Thank you both for your replies! They have been so helpful! This gives me a much better picture as how to use maps this coming year. God Bless!

  8. I haven't quite decided on what the summer schedule is going to look like just yet. Right now, we still have until the first of June for our school year. Then summer break will be the rest of June, all of July, and probably part of August. I'm pretty sure I will need to keep a basic school routine going for my youngest during summer break for sure. For me, over summer break I'm hoping to focus in on my blog for a little bit and also do some extra reading from my list of reading books...maybe even finish up some ones I've been reading since last summer! :)

    1. Karen, you can see more about our binder timeline here: I originally made it for my two oldest three years ago, and it's still going strong! :)

      I definitely have reading and blogging on my summer list too! I have so many blog topics that are sitting unfinished in my Evernote, waiting for me to have the time to revisit them and finish them off. We'll see how many I can get to! :)

  9. Summer seems very far away for me right now, seeing as we're just about to start Week 28! (We lost almost two weeks due to illness not that long ago and I'm feeling time pinched now. But I'm not sure what else we could have done - as it is I'll probably be doing some doubling up for the younger two, but that just isn't an option in Y7 - the workload, along w/ life's responsibilities and activities makes that impossible) I know we'll get there eventually...

    Like another commenter said, your todo list for the summer makes me feel tired too. :-) I know I have a lot of thinking to do about Y8, especially in making it more Catholic, and I know if I had a lot of time to throw at it I would love it... but as I don't I'm just rather stressed about it. We also have a wonderful 2.5 week trip planned around a family wedding in July, which is going to be fantastic and exhausting. I'm hoping to have all planning done before I go... but not quite sure how to make that happen!

    And how wonderful that you have a CM group going in your area! Hooray!! I hope it bears great fruit.

    1. I know--I really am excited about our new study group! It is so nice to meet up with like-minded ladies to dig in to the volumes. It seems like the movement is growing around here, and I could not be more pleased. :)

      I hope your July trip ends up being more relaxing that it seems it will be! And I'm in the opposite postion: we have a getaway to the coast coming up in a few weeks and I'm waiting to do the bulk of my planning until after that--I'm hoping I can get it done between then and our start date in July!