When I tell people that I’m a teacher, they usually say something like, “You must love summer.”
I don’t love summer. I don’t like summer.
Unlike elementary and secondary teachers and my colleagues who work in traditional brick and mortar institutions of higher learning, I teach year-round. I don’t get a break during the summer months. And working in the summer is difficult because my kids are they’re home with me. During the sweltering heat of July and August, I need to grade papers, deal with house flies, and prevent my kids from killing each other. It’s tough.
However, over the past seven years, I have learned a few things about staying productive during the hot summer months. If you’re an online student and a parent and you want to keep your GPA up and keep your kids happy during the summer, here are some of my best tips:
Get up early.
Now, I’m not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination (just ask my kids). However, I like to rise early in the summer because I like to spend my summer nights sitting on the deck, watching the kids chase after fireflies. Summer nights are filled with wonderful, family-friendly activities. So, if you’re like me and you don’t want to miss these opportunities to bond with your kids and spouse, set the alarm back an extra hour and try to squeeze in some work during the early morning hours.
Take advantage of drop-in camps.
As I mentioned before, we can’t swing eight weeks of camp for each kid. However, there are some drop-in camps nearby, and I do take advantage of them when necessary. Whenever I have a big grading deadline, I drop off the kids. The cost isn’t too steep (most places offer a sibling discount if you have multiples), and the kids love the interaction.
Set up play stations.
Not a PlayStation, buy play stations. Create little activity centers (a drawing center, a dramatic play center, etc.) in your family room or your rec room or some other common space. Have your kids switch stations every twenty or thirty minutes – you can use a kitchen timer or a phone or tablet. This strategy requires a lot of thought and pre-planning. You want to find age-appropriate activities that are going to challenge and entertain your children. However, if you do the legwork, then you can get an extra hour or two to devote to your school work.
Set up playdates.
You want a morning off to finish that big research essay? Set up a playdate for your kid and her best pal. My kids love having playdates with their cousins. So, I’ll drop them off one day during the week, and I’ll host my nieces another day of the week. It’s a great way to keep the kids happy and get a few extra hours of work in.
My kids love to be outside. They love to jump on the trampoline; they love to squirt each other with water guns. They love to do all the things I loved to do when I was their age. However, I can’t see our backyard from my office. So, I set up camp outside. I take my laptop, my notebooks, and my favorite writing utensils, and I create a workspace on one of our outside dining tables. That way, I get the best of both worlds – I get to finish my work, and I get to spend some time in the sunshine with my kiddos. So, if you can, create an outside office for yourself.
Bottom line: You can enjoy your summer, and still maintain the quality of work that your teachers and classmates have come to expect from you. Just utilize some of these strategies, and don’t forget to have some fun!