You know how when you follow a workout video, there’s the standardroutine, and then the modified one? That’s how homeschoolers shouldhandle this summer.

Whether you’re a longtime homeschooler or just launching this fall,you’ll find lots of advice about how to fill up this empty summer. Someideas are good, and some are even great; regardless, you’ll definitelyget the message that you need to expend a lot of effort and energy to keepyour kids busy and salvage this summer.

I’m here to tell you that’s not the case.

You may thrive on activity, planning, and creating adventures. Or you might bemore like me, someone who has to consider whether the result is worth all theenergy I have to expend for it. Either way, homeschoolers have to approachsummer plans differently. We can’t really sprint through summer, pouringenergy and creativity into every day. For us, summer turns into fall right inour living rooms. We need some of that energy and creativity for school.

Fortunately, one of the perks of homeschooling is that we can take great ideasand modify them to suit our needs.

I recently read an article by a mother of two girls, ages 10 and 7, whosuggested some ideas to combat the summer slump. They’re fun ideas, butthey are pretty high-impact. I thought they could use a little modificationhere and there:

1. A picnic lunch. She packed a picnicbasket, mixed a fancy drink in a pitcher, and set up a play tent out in theyard. She and her girls lounged on pillows, read books, played lawn games, andran through the sprinkler. “My kids had no desire to go back insideuntil dinner,” she says.

Factors to consider:

  • The planning, preparation, managing, and cleanup are considerable.
  • Uncooperative children can ruin every bit of your planning and preparation.Tweens, in particular, resist enjoying anything that’s suggested tothem.

Modification: Make a tray of different kinds of sandwiches(pb&j, chicken salad, cheese), cut them into little squares, and add appleslices and strawberries or whatever your kids might eat. For little kids, youcan have a “picnic” that’s anywhere except the dining table.For older kids, just invite them to come and get food. You can sit nearby witha book. As the children drift past, engage them in a short conversation or askthem a trivia question—enough to make a connection before you both goback to what you were doing.

2. A bathroom spa. She lined up every nail polish color shehad. Then she added body scrubs, lotions, face masks, and a stack of handtowels warm from the dryer. She ran sudsy water in the tub for a foot bath,and had her older daughter pour fizzy strawberry drinks.

Factors to consider:

  • She had to clean her bathroom first, then set up a spa,then oversee the activity, then clean up again. Thissounds exhausting to me.

Modification: Sit at the dining room table and paint eachother’s nails while listening to an audiobook.

3. A movie night. She printed a poster and hung it in theliving room and had the kids make tickets. They popped popcorn and got dressedup, and then her husband ushered the girls to their seats. They watched themovie with no arguments.

Factors to consider:

  • This is a fun way to give kids a theater experience completely unlike whatthey’d get if they actually went to a movie. Who dresses up and isushered to a seat?
  • No arguments? Really? Really?

Modification: Make brownies . . . or just buy cookies . . .and choose a movie that most people will enjoy. Invite everyone to watch itbut don’t insist on making it a whole-family event. I know that goesagainst the notion of “family fun,” but trust me, it’s notworth ruining the majority’s fun by dragging in a sulker.

If you think my modifications sound lackluster, then by all means go for thewhole fiesta! Yet you’re still free to modify, scale back, and changecourse if you need to.

The reason I emphasize modification is that it’s good practice forhomeschooling itself. During this summer, you can confirm what your familyenjoys and what doesn’t work at all. You’ll also get an idea ofwhat you can do on your own, and what you’ll need help with. These areimportant concepts to keep in mind as school starts.

But until then, enjoy your summer fun—however all-in or laid-back youwant to do it.

—Sara

Photo credit: iStock