Our “Easy-Peasy” Summer Learning Schedule

Our Easy Peasy Summer Learning Schedule

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As educational plans are up in the air for Z with our upcoming move, it was important to me that I keep a somewhat normal learning schedule with her. A few months ago, I had an all-out lesson plan for each day of the week, completely color coded and scheduled.

Yep.

Our Easy Peasy Summer Learning ScheduleA couple of days before I started “summerlearning” with her, however, I realized that is sooooo not my style. Well, I guess it’s sorta my style — I like to over-plan, so I can relax and then be flexible. So, I over-planned, realized that there was no way I was going to make Z (or myself) sit through hours of “school work” over the summer, and decided to chill the hell out.

So, you’ll notice there is no set schedule — only goals for the day. Part of my goal, when starting to work from home, was to have freedom in my schedule. Because of that it seemed silly to start a rigid schedule of learning at home for Z. Besides, I am an early bird and she is a night owl, so our mornings are very different. By having goals, we can get it done whenever during the day, and it takes the pressure off. Plus, Z is a visual learner, (and also loves feeling prepared) so having a checklist every day has been really fun for her, so far.

Over the summer, I’m only covering the basics (Reading, Writing, Math) with fun science experiments, field trips, and lots and lots of books. We’re making at least 2-3 trips/week to the library (which we both love…) And time spent actually doing work is 15-20 minutes or less (except for book reading or fun educational YouTube Videos/Games/Apps.

Supply List

Our Easy Peasy Summer Learning Schedule

 

As far as supplies go, go figure, I keep it simple.

As you can see, not only is my list super simple, but it’s also CHEAP. There’s just no sense in making learning complicated and/or expensive — learning can come from anywhere, and that’s the mantra I’ve been clinging to.

The clipboard is my favorite thing because it opens and has some storage. So, I store the daily sheets, her journal, and math workbook (although, we haven’t been staying in the math workbook much) in there.

Then, I clip a Daily Sheet and the Schedule to the front of the clipboard. Having a simple clipboard with a few tasks also helps me foster independence with Z (which is necessary since I also work from home).

I want to stress the fact that we don’t do it the same way everyday. Z and I both operate well in  a world that has routine, but flexibility. So, each day looks different, but similar, if that makes sense.

And that’s that…easy peasy right?

Do you have any sort of summer schedule with your family? How does it come together for you?

Taking Care of Your Mental Health as a Student

With the end of fall comes finals, winter blues, and darker mornings and nights. While this is part of the routine, it can cause a lot of undue stress, anxiety, and even depression. People mention having the “winter blues” which is also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder. It can be easy to scoff at that, but as someone that has dealt with anxiety and depression on and off for majority of my life, seasons definitely affect my mood, energy, and overall motivation. And of course that affects how I deal with schoolwork and class load. And if there’s anything I’ve learned since going back to school full-time, mental health is just as important as physical health.

This semester, I’m taking 18 credit hours. And being a mom while doing it can make me feel stretched extremely thin, most of the time. On top of that, I’m an extreme introvert, which means I need a lot of down time and alone time to recharge, and that’s near impossible with my circumstances. I don’t say any of this to wallow or have a pity-party. It’s exactly the opposite, really. I’ve found a few things that help me maintain focus and keep energy positive during the winter months (or any time when I’m struggling). I have to mention that I am no health professional, this all just comes from my own personal experience.

Taking Care of Your Mental Health as a Student

1. Find time to breathe – Whether it’s taking a hot shower, staying up late to watch a show or read a book you really love, or taking a quick walk. Find at least 10 minutes in your day to breathe, cry, scream, or relax.

2. Know thyself. Be aware of your rhythms. I know that I focus much better earlier in the morning and that my focus is total crap in mid-afternoon. I know that I’m super motivated on Sundays, but Fridays are a struggle. I know that late-night cram sessions NEVER work for me, but then if I get to bed early and wake up early, I focus and remember a lot easier. And while I know that I won’t always get my ideal circumstance, the more I know about myself, the easier it will be to set myself up for success.

3. Know when to take a break. It can be really difficult to break away from the work when you have a lot stacked up against you, but you have to be kind to yourself. Whether it’s a 30 sec, 30 minute, or 3 hour break, know when it’s necessary. Sometimes, it will mean skipping a class…if you need to, do it.

4. A good laugh and a hot shower cure a whole lot of stress. Self-explanatory!

5. Know when to buckle down. At some point, you just have to buckle down and get it done. No excuses, no bitching, no complaining.

6. Remember that school is not the end-all, be-all. Life is bigger than a degree. Believe me, I know that it feels like everything hangs in the balance and is crucial to every move you make. Your career, your future, everything can seem extremely overwhelming around this time of year. Just try to remind yourself (even if you have to repeat it out-loud to yourself..) This degree does not define me. And life is happening and is much bigger than any of this.

How to Finish a Degree as a Parent – Part 1

How to Finish a Degree as a Parent 1

As the school year is looming in my not-so-distant future, I’m overwhelmed, nervous, nauseas, and so f’ing excited. That’s right friends, this girl is finally in her last year of undergrad. My journey to this point has been all over the place. I graduated high school 12 -gulp- years ago. And I am just now getting finishing my undergraduate degree. I had 6 years before Z was born to finish that degree, and I made a lot of missteps, mistakes, and all out bad choices in those years. I’ll save the specifics of that for another post, but for this one, I’m going to hone in on finishing a degree as a parent. Being a student is difficult at any degree, but parenting through it all definitely adds different pressures. This is part 1 of a 3 part series on the ins and outs of finishing a degree as a parent. Part 1 is all about what you SHOULD do.

DO

  •  Take your time! One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made (a few times) on the road to a degree is changing degree programs, schools, and formats too many times. I’d reach a point where I wanted to finish my degree in a more condensed time-frame, so I’d settle for something I wasn’t nearly as interested in, or in a way that didn’t inspire me. As a parent, you can feel the pressure of hurrying through a program for financial reasons or wanting to hurry into the workforce with your new degree. And those are legitimate, however, going to school is an investment. Invest in a degree that means something to you and for you. Don’t just settle for the fastest way to get through it.
  • Stay organized! Google calendar has saved my life more than once. I would have never been able to stay on top of Z’s events, practices, my schoolwork, appointments, etc, if I didn’t stay on top of my calendar. Google calendar works for me, but you might have a different method. Whatever your organizational method is…stay on top of it. Your life will already be stressful enough balancing parenthood and work and school…the last thing you need is another battle to fight.
  • Keep yourself inspired. There will be numerous times that you will think, “What the hell am I thinking?” Self-doubt will creep in all the time. Find things that will inspire you to keep going. I’m a words person, so I have quotes posted all over. Write down your goals at the beginning of each semester, and the reasons (and people) you’re doing this for…keep it somewhere visible to remind you why this matters, when you need it most.
  • Find financial flexibility where you can. Depending on your degree program, format of schooling, work schedules, school/daycare/preschool schedules, it can feel impossible to finish something as expensive as an education. If you need to tap into your savings (Hahahahaha, who has a savings?!), take out student loans, reach out to your job about education assistance…etc. I took out the max amount I could for student loans. I know, a lot of financial planners would flip after hearing that, but I am attending a brick and mortar school, during the day while my daughter is in school, and am mostly single parenting. That meant I needed something that could fill in the gaps from missing a regular 9-5 job through the week. I also have my military education benefits which provides a monthly housing allowance. So, with my weekend part-time job, financial aid, and my housing allowance, I make it by and have the flexibility in my schedule to invest in school and my daughter.
  • Know and be kind to yourself. I’ve learned that I do not operate well in late afternoon/evening classes. I hit a mental block and lack focus. I’ve learned that I study best in the early-to-mid morning, and that late night cram sessions are not beneficial for me. I’ve learned that I need to start writing essays early, and write a little bit each day instead of procrastinating to the last minute. I need calm music when I study, and I retain more when I sit at my desk than on my bed. This is probably my best piece of advice: Be aware of yourself. That sounds a bit hokey, but seriously, the more aware you are of what does and doesn’t work for you, the more successful you will be. Every school and professor will try to give you study/academic tips, and they can be helpful, but knowing yourself and how you function at your best, is the easiest way to set yourself up for success.

It is not impossible to finish your degree as a parent. It takes some creativity, but it is 100% possible.