Looking Ahead to Summer Goals (Keeping Up School)

fire on a beach

I am equal parts planner to wacky spontaneous. It’s a weird combination, I agree.

But that’s who I am.

I love to make lists and plan out what I am doing to do on a specific trip, but I don’t really like to make reservations and set things in stone until really close to time to leave.

I love to think of and make goals. I really can’t help it.

I was sitting down today, thinking about blogging and camping this summer, and I realized that there has been a lot bumping around in my head that I want to write down.

cup of coffee on a table with a laptop and a notebook

Summer is pretty short when you share your kids with your ex close to half time. I can make my own schedule during the summer, which means that the days I have the kids are MINE, and I don’t have to worry about putting them into camps for care.

There are some fun goals I want to accomplish this summer, and there are also some growth/education goals that I want to accomplish this summer.

First and foremost: swimming skills.

The last two summers, I have spent hours with the kids in the pool. They have done swimming lessons, and we have also spent countless hours at the pool in life jackets and out. My older children are getting closer to being comfortable in the pool, especially my oldest. He can freestyle pretty much from one side of the pool to the other.

His brother, on the other hand, isn’t quite there, as much as he would like to think that he is. We made a lot of really good progress last summer, but he is still a weak swimmer. I would trust himself to stay alive and keep himself afloat until I could get to him, or make it a few feet back to the side of the pool, but not across it yet.

My girl is not anywhere near swimming yet….it’s all about her floaty (that goes across the front of her chest) and teaching her how to be comfortable in a life jacket. Last year in a life jacket, she had very little control and often ended upon her her face in the water unable to figure out how to get her hips underneath her.

All in all, I’d like to really extend and expand their swimming skills, by taking them to the community pool regularly, and also by spending a lot of time at the nearby rivers and lakes that have a safe swimming area for them.

Second: Camping Adventures

I want to camp tons with the kids this summer, three to four trips if possible. I’ve got a few spots in mind, but it would be neat to try out some new places. I am a huge fan of going camping places that are not packed or popular, so that does close off some awesome options.

I just don’t enjoy sleeping in a tent closer to someone than if you were in an apartment building (but with thinner walls). The mosquitoes are pretty bad in early summer, so we might try out the coast and drive to areas in the state where it is bit dryer early summer.

I’d like to return to the North Fork of the Willamette, where we camped last year, and possibly Crescent Lake, though perhaps later in the year than we did last year to avoid the mosquitoes.

crescent lake oregon sunset

The beach is definitely something I want to do….and I guess I will need to actually try and make some reservations there because the beach spots (the good ones) always fill up really quickly. There is a lot of campgrounds near to the beach, but I’d like to see what I can find that is closer to the beach, within walking distance if possible.

AND….I want to make all this camping happen while also achieving the goals I’ve set out below.

Third: Reading/Math Skills

When I talk about my goals for the kids in this section, keep in mind that I don’t intend to make them spend hours at a time doing school work. I am thinking of short bursts of work, in the range of 10-20 minutes a session max, consistently throughout the summer.

My eldest

The kids have made some really dramatic progress this school year in reading and in math skills. I feel like we lost a lot of ground last summer with my older son in reading. He tested in the 30th percentile in the fall for his reading skills after the summer and then by winter, was up close to the 80th.

I don’t want to spend the entire summer doing school….but I do want to take responsibility for maintaining his progress so at least he doesn’t go backwards quite so much.

The plan with my oldest son is to set aside some structured time each day (including the days we are camping) to read his chapter books, and also to keep working through the Fry first 1000 sight words. He can read about 75% of them currently, but can only write and spell maybe 10% of them.

It would be great to have him confidently writing and spelling the first 300 of them by the end of the summer. (We are working on them now, so that’s not as big of a tasks as it sounds).

The chapter books I am going to ask him to read are books that are beyond what he is competent to read, and we’ll work through the hard words together. I have been looking at books for this purpose, and am circling around the Rick Riordan Mount Olympus series. I looked at Artemis Fowl, but the language there is more complex than I expected. I considered Wings of Fire (by Tui T. Sutherland) but I think they are too bloody to read without my supervision. I’ve read the entire Riordan series, and while I think it’ll be a stretch for my son, I am comfortable with the material for his age and maturity level.

person hiding behind a stack of books

Maybe I’ll also have him work on a summer journal, documenting what we did each day, and gluing in various treasures to take in to show his friends back at school when summer is over.

This child is a budding math genius…but I don’t want him to spend the summer doing rote math problems. I’d like to find some experiments that we can do anywhere (camping or otherwise) that teach some important math or physics topics. This is going to take a bit more planning, but I’ve got a few books to look at right now on this.

My middle child

My second son is really poised to make some huge leaps with his reading skills, and I want to support that and help him continue on his trajectory. He actually has some really strong skills in sounding out unfamiliar words, and his memory is really very good for sight words. The thing that he lacks is confidence…he thinks he is really bad at reading. I want to help him develop that confidence.

I plan to help my second son gain confidence in reading and to help him hit the ground running in first grade by having the first 100 words of the Fry 100 down cold, both reading and writing them. The writing/spelling part might be a stretch, but he has been watching his brother and understands why we are doing it.

We’ll definitely find ways to help him stay up with his writing skills, which have been much slower to develop than his reading skills. I don’t see him being as interested in a journal. I may need to get creative to find a way to keep him interested in working on his writing this summer.

This child is very hesitant to work on math….but I can see that he is going to have an easy time with math if he could just get over himself and his hatred of being bad at stuff. Math this summer is going to be able making it fun, and building some initial confidence in math concepts.

chalk board with math problems written on it

And….the baby of the family

My daughter is not reading yet (she is turning three next month). But I have started working with her on letters and sounds. It would be great to get to the end of the summer with her being able to recognize and name all 26 letters, and if we make good progress, be able to assign the initial phonic sound to them all.

So far, I’d say we have about a third to one half of the letters down (T, S, Z, X, A, J, P, O, M among them).

I would also like to see her doing more drawing/painting. To encourage that, I’M going to do a lot more painting and drawing in front of her and around her. I’m a firm believer in the kids doing what they see their parents doing, and being interested in what they see. The purpose of encouraging the drawing/painting is to help develop the hand-eye coordination for writing.

I do a lot of practical life type activities with her name, like cooking/stirring, bead sorting, eating small things with fingers, rolling cars/balls, catching and throwing, scooping and spooning. I think I’ll look for more ideas for things that will continue to capture her attention.

Finally, life skills!

In past years during the summer off, I have informally started teaching the older boys some of what I call, life skills. Basic cooking (making toast, measuring, kneading bread, making PB&J) but I think it is time to formalize this a bit more.

I need to make a list of things I want the kids to know how to do. I see that there are a lot of blog articles on this topic, and I can pull items from these lists.

So far, here are a few ideas that I’ve seen that I’d like to work on this summer for the boys:

  • firm handshakes
  • talking on the phone
  • folding laundry
  • wrapping a gift
  • hammering a nail
  • preparing simple fruits/vegetables (peeling potatoes, cucumbers, carrots, cutting vegetables like cukes and peppers, washing celery and cutting it.
  • simple cleaning tasks like sweeping, mopping, dusting, cleaning the toilet, bathroom counters and sinks
  • washing dishes

The boys are already helping a little bit, but I’d like them to do more and to be better at it.

child wearing glasses sitting in front of a red bookcase

But then again…

Is there room for more art in here? Does this seem like too much? Are these the ravings of a tiger mom? Do we have room to accomplish any of this at all?

Guess there is only one way to find out.


I think it is easier for kids to build confidence upon confidence. I don’t know what my kids’ teachers will think of them next fall…but I know it will be easier for them in classroom if my kids aren’t majorly behind.

Anyway, that was just my personal brain dump.

What is bumping around today in your brain?

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