Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Summer Sullenness Strategies


1. showing irritation or ill humor by a gloomy silence or reserve.
2. persistently and silently ill-humored; morose.
3. indicative of gloomy ill humor.

1. See cross 2. See glum  3.  sulky, moody, sour, bad-tempered. 4.  cheerless, clouded, overcast, somber, mournful, dark. 5.  slow, stagnant. 

Related words:
 I am completely astonished every spring when the complaints and questions of my children suddenly go from this:

"HOW many more days of school do we have?" 
"I am SO tired of school."  
"When do we get our SUMMER, Mom?" 


"I am SO bored." 
"There is NOTHING to do."
"Could you take us to the beach, movie, swimming pool, friend's house....?"
"When is so-and-so coming to visit?"

In the blink of an eye they suddenly become SULLEN ~ bad attitudes, long faces, sibling rivalry, continuing complaints, restlessness, and more seem to follow, and just when they've gotten exactly what they've been wishing for ~ SUMMER!

This is difficult for me to relate to, partly because as a grown up I really can not remember the last time I was bored (Honestly, I would LOVE to be bored for at least a day or two!), and partly because I don't ever remember looking to the adults in my life to entertain me in my free time when I was a child ~ except for my sweet grandmother who sat by her backyard pool for hours on end watching us siblings swim and making us snacks.  Aside from that, I remember roller skating, and Barbie playing (we had a very extensive and intricate, hours-on-end system for this!), hide-and-go-seek, and freeze tag.  We also had TV, and unfortunately I watched a lot of soap operas in the summertime once I reached a certain age.  My kids don't have that option!
It seems that the sullenness gets worse the older they get, so last year I devised a plan.  It was pretty basic.  They had to log one hour of reading and one hour playing outside before they could have their regular 3-4 p.m. "electronic time."  (This is the only time during the day that they can play computer games, check email/Facebook, iPod touch and PSP games.)  We also added what we called "The $20 Bible Challenge."  Each month we gave them a memorization challenge from scripture, and once it was accomplished they received $20.  Typically, we give them a certain amount of spending money for vacation.  This way, they could earn up to $60 for our annual trip to Maine.  The monthly challenges were: 

June: Memorize all the books of the Bible in order
July: Memorize "The Romans Road" ~ a series of verses that explain the gospel
August: Memorize John 15:1-11 (the Vine and branches verses)

Cooper and Kayla accomplished each challenge and earned their $60.  Kory always seems to have money from some odd job he's done for someone, so was much less motivated than his poverty stricken siblings.
This summer we're doing the same thing, but adding a few items to the daily requirements.  Here's what their days and Bible Challenges look like this summer:

Every day Tasks:
  • Complete a lesson in their Bible study workbooks ~ takes 20 minutes  (see first pic above)
  • Read a novel (not a comic book! or a magazine!) for one hour
  • Play outside for one hour (It is NOT 100 degrees here!)
  • Complete 2-3 extra chores (of Mom's choice) on top of regular chores
  • Staying Sharp:  Kayla = two sets of multiplication/division flash cards; Cooper = cursive writing practice; Kory = PSAT prep
    Now, they weren't exactly cheering about having to do actual, physical work, or anything that resembles school work, but at least two of them really thrive in having some structure and a checklist for their day.  (I'll let you guess which two that would be!)  They wake up and get to work on the list of things they need to accomplish, and then any free time after that (which is still a lot) is purely relished!  They are happy, there's no time to be bored, and they have very good attitudes about the whole thing ~ mostly. Meanwhile, we get some help keeping up with the cleaning and maintenance of the house (today I have clean floors, windows, and an organized utensil drawer in the kitchen!) as well as time to get other things done, like the homeschool reports that are consuming all of my time at the moment. (Well, those and blogging, obviously.)

    The Bible challenges for THIS summer will be:

    June:  Read Chapters 1-25 of Genesis & write a one-sentence summary of each chapter
    July: Read Chapters 26-50 of Genesis & write a one-sentence summary of each chapter
    August: Memorize The Nicene Creed

    and for $5 extra dollars per month there will be a poetry challenge as well:

    June:  "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost
    July: "I'm Nobody!  Who Are You?" by Emily Dickinson
    August: "My Shadow" by Robert Louis Stevenson (or 6+ line poem of your choice)

    Even with all of these tasks and challenges, we still have plenty of hours in the day to do lots of fun summer stuff, like trips to the swimming pool or local pond, bike trail rides (last night we biked to Whole foods for gelato!), picnics, beach trips, hikes, and cookouts. 

    What about you?  Any other ideas to combat summer sullenness? What about other poetry ideas for kids?  Any good ones they might like memorizing more than these?

    Hoping your summer is off to a great start!

    Next up: (and a little out of order)  
    School Year Wrap-Up & Baseball Highlights


    Amy said...

    Thanks for sharing! I just ordered one of the Kay Arthur books for kids today. Not sure how much my 7.5 yr old will be able to do this year--but we're sure going to give it a shot! :) I'm thinking we'll be working together on it at this point.

    Great ideas!!!!!

    cshows said...

    Melanie, I wish I still lived in Massachusetts so that I could get parenting advice (when that time comes). Your plan seems amazing!

    Melanie said...

    Amy ~ I hope you enjoy the Bible studies. We've done several of them, and they've been great.

    And Carla ~ thank you. YOU are a big reason I'm still homeschooling my highschoolers. Looking forward to seeing how the Lord brings children into your home!!!!

    Cinnamon said...

    What a fun glimpse into your summer :-0

    I found, like you, that the more children are entertained, the easier they are bored. Even if that's having friends over a lot. Suddenly their friend is not there and there is NOTHING to do.

    I like to combat that boredom by keeping little and big hands busy. In fact just today my 7yr old said the no no words "i'm bored!" So I told her she could either go take a nap, fold the laundry in the dryer or find something to do. Guess what she chose? I never saw her again. Then at the end of the day all the kids were saying what a fun day they had :-) Silly kids!

    Most of our children read like crazy. It's weird. If I gave them an hour to read they'd complain that wasn't enough. It's keeping good reading material in stock for them that's my challenge.

    I like your lists of things to do. That helps here too. We are still doing school till Papa comes home so that keeps them busy for a bit daily. Then regular jobs to do. Projects like the garden or bike rides or fun trips to the lake keep us going. Summer is always full of fun here. But I enjoy those lazy days too.

    Great catching up with you~ Cinnamon