Planning Summer with Purpose

May 30, 2024 | Posted by the IEW Blog Team

The finish line is in sight! I know that we are all counting down the days until the end of the school year. We are looking forward to the summer months when our schedules are less demanding and our responsibilities lessen. However, to be good stewards of the time we are blessed with, we should consider what we can do over the summer so that we enter the next school year refreshed and equipped. I encourage you to sit down at the end of the school year, look at your summer calendar, and furnish it with time for professional development, preparation for the next school year, and recreation and rest.

One way we can be intentional with our summer months is to include professional development. This applies whether you are a classroom teacher, a co-op teacher, a private tutor, or a homeschool parent. Summer is the perfect time to watch the Teaching Writing: Structure and Style® (TWSS) videos! This course teaches you how to teach students to write using IEW’s methodology. Every summer Evan Smith and Andrew Pudewa host The Great TWSS Adventure with weekly live video chats to give tips and tricks and answer questions. You can find more information and sign up here. While you watch the TWSS videos, you can also complete the practicum assignments and become a IEW® Registered Instructor. If you are a classroom teacher, consider attending the Virtual Teaching Writing: Structure and Style workshop.

 Another opportunity for professional development is to attend a homeschool convention. There you will find speakers with expertise on a variety of topics enabling you to choose the ones that apply to your situation. Conventions are also a great place to connect with other homeschool families and thereby find encouragement and support. Andrew Pudewa and Julie Walker spoke about the benefits of attending homeschool conferences in a recent podcast episode 415 “Get Thee to a Homeschool Convention.” Lastly, you can create your own professional development. Andrew’s book However Imperfectly, a curated collection of articles and essays, provides a lot of meat to chew on. If you prefer audio, select several of his talks to listen to. Some of the ones I go back to repeatedly are Nurturing Competent Communicators, Four Deadly Errors of Teaching Writing, and Cultivating Language Arts – Preschool through High School. Summer months are the perfect time to focus on professional development.

Another area where you can use your summer months intentionally is planning and preparing for the next school year. I like to start by printing a calendar of the upcoming school year and noting any trips or events that our family may have. Then I look at the scope and sequence of each curriculum and schedule the lessons on the calendar week by week. I love that IEW’s curriculum allows for flexibility: if my students need to take an extra week in Unit 6 or Unit 8, we can do so without worrying about falling behind. The Homeschool 101 podcast episode “How to Prepare for the Fall” (Episode 375) provides encouragement and support. Once the planning is done, you can move into preparing. This means familiarizing yourself with the teacher’s manuals and even completing the first few lessons yourself. This makes you a better teacher and more relatable to your students. Planning and preparing during the summer months will pay dividends during the school year.

This final suggestion for the summer months may be the most important of all: intentionally spending time in rest and recreation. You cannot pour from an empty cup! During the summer it is crucial that teachers and teaching parents take the time to intentionally refill their own souls. One way to do this is to spend time cultivating gratitude. When we are intentional about finding things to be grateful for, we find that our joy and contentment increase. Andrew and Julie had a fascinating conversation about this in “Cultivating Gratitude” (Episode 397). In most parts of the United States, summer is the perfect time to get outside for recreation. Many towns and cities have walking trails, parks, and community pools. A walking tour of your city would be a fun family outing, and you might even learn something about your city! Ginny Yurich of 1000 Hours Outside speaks passionately about the benefits of spending extended time outdoors with your children. Rest and recreation need not be complicated. Spending evenings around a firepit telling jokes and making s’mores, playing four-square in the driveway, and catching fireflies are some of my favorite summer memories. Deliberately scheduling time for rest and recreation during the summer months is essential.

Just as a boat without a rudder drifts off course, heading into the summer months without purpose will result in aimless drifting, and before we know it, the next school year will be here. However, if we are purposeful in growing as teachers, preparing in advance, and resting and refreshing our bodies and souls, we will come to the new school year well furnished. This is important because our students are watching us. When they see us prioritizing these important things, they will come to imitate us. I exhort you to “begin with the end in mind” and purposefully plan your summer months. 

by Deanne Smith

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