Last Day of School and Planing for Summer Vacation!

We have a week left of school. It seems like a lot of unexpected events have come up in the last month for my family, but I think we’ll still finish up by our goal, June 6! I had hoped we would get done early…but we made a trip to visit my parents unexpectedly. If you had a goal to be done in May or June, but if life has thrown a few curve balls, don’t despair! Revise your plan. You can be flexible. Here are some ideas to help you wrap up another homeschool year 🙂 If you finished your homeschool year with your kids, congratulations! See #5 and #6 below.

1. Set a date to be done, if you haven’t yet. If you wanted to be done in May, pick a reasonable date in June. If you wanted to be done in June, but cannot, choose a reasonable date in July or August. Be sure to set aside time for a true summer vacation, even if it’s only 2-weeks due to unexpected . Doesn’t everyone love summer vacation? If you tell your children a deadline for when the last day of school is, it will really help them keep up their motivation to get their school work done. If you give them a nebulous goal, “We’ll finish sometime in June,” that sounds too boring to a lot of children. Give them some boundaries of what to expect, and they will (hopefully!) rise to the occasion.

2. Make a list of what has to get done. If you have had a lot of unexpected events occur in the last few months, revise your plan for what will count as being “done” for the school year. I don’t mean don’t require your kids to learn. That would be unethical. Revise your plan for what is absolutely necessary. For elementary aged children, here are some ideas for focusing on the basics of reading, writing, and math:

  • finish math curriculum
  • finish handwriting book
  • finish spelling book
  • finish grammar book
  • finish writing book (e.g., sentences, paragraphs, etc.)
  • finish literature book (either what you most recently assigned to your child, or what your family is reading aloud)

If your child is at grade level for reading, writing, and math, that’s great! If your state requires specific work on other subjects, make sure you complete them too, particularly if you have to keep a record (e.g., geography, science, health).

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If you’re reading this blog, you are probably “the type” who loves to over-commit with academic materials at the beginning of the year (I know I do…). You might have gotten a little too excited about what you would cover with your children this school year.  Know when to throw up your white flag. Don’t sacrifice the main subjects that you are required to cover. For the “extra” subjects you did not get through, or materials that were not a good fit for your child (e.g., chapter book about ancient Egypt), consider getting to those materials during next school year. For elementary aged children, when in doubt, fall back on the basic subjects that are important for later learning: reading, writing, and math. Finish these subjects and you are doing ok!

3. Make a plan to review content from this year. If you are using Catholic Schoolhouse memory work, or a similar program (e.g., Classically Catholic  Memory work, Classical Conversations, etc.), then have a plan to review all of the subjects from the year. For Catholic Schoolhouse, I play the memory work on my iPhone, and the children can review a quarter while they help prepare and eat lunch. It’s easy. You have put in a lot of work to teach your children information this year, and finding a way to review it helps them with memory retention.

Another way to review the year is to go through some of their completed workbooks. Sit down with your child and have him/her flip through some of their completed workbooks and tell you about their favorite parts from it.

Pull out some of the projects your children have completed this year (e.g., book report, geography map, art project, poster project, etc.). Have your children talk about some of them during dinner time. Or have each child do an “impromptu speech” in front of the family in the living room and show their favorite creations from the year.

If you had a goal of your child learning math facts this year (e.g., multiplication, doubles addition math facts, fact families, etc.), have your child review the facts for a few days, and then give a “test” to see if they still remember it.

Find a way to review the key concepts that you have taught this year. It will do wonders to help improve your children’s memory recall and fluency.  These are some important goals in education, in my opinion! It’s best if a child can know what she knows, recall it quickly/fluently, and explain it now and in the future.

4. Plan a special last day. What can you share with your children that can be fun to do on your last day? Last year, we went to a beach. This year, I told the kids when they are done with everything, they can use a new present that their grandparents: a Slip ‘n Slide. My are very excited about it. I am surprised how it comes up in conversation while they are doing their school work. “I can’t wait until summer vacation and then we can use the Slip ‘n Slide! I am going to get my pages done fast today.” For your last day of school, you could take your kids to a special park, a splash pad, a zoo, go for a hike in the woods, or invite friends over for a simple party (bonfire with S’mores). You have worked hard this year…find a way that you can look forward to the last day, too. Maybe after you do something fun with your kids during the day, you could organize an end of the year dinner with other homeschool parents; pick a restaurant and see who wants to join you.

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5. Take a picture. Did you take a “first day of school” picture? Now it’s time to take a “last day of school” picture. Compare how much the kids have grown!

6. Make a summer bucket list. Print one from here or here, or pull out a blank sheet of paper and start writing! Ask your kids what they want to do this summer. Visit 10 parks, run through the sprinkler, have a picnic, bake cookies, grow zucchini, make lemonade, pick strawberries, draw with chalk on the driveway, go to a theme park, join your library’s summer reading program, etc. Add some things that you want to do, such as sit on a lawn chair with your feet up and watch the clouds, go kayaking, or watch an outdoor classical concert. Plan with your spouse if you want to make a day trip or a mini-vacation somewhere. Dream up a fun bucket list! Put it on your fridge and take a picture of it to keep on your phone. This will help you remember your good ideas. Summer is almost here. I pray you have a good end to your school year and enjoy summer vacation!

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