A Look at Our Goals for Summer 2020

Jul 26, 2020

Last year, I wrote a post about the four things that make it feel like summer for our family. I find it so interesting that even though our world has been turned upside down in the months since then, and it feels like there are so many things we can't do, our basic summer routine has stayed largely intact. No, we aren't going on a long family vacation. And no, we don't have four family reunions this year.

But our day to day activities have remained mostly the same this year as in summers past: we are doing our summer reading program (and family book club), we have a new summer playlist, we've traded out daily trips to the pool with a splash pad and otter pops in the front yard, and we have our summer goals.

It's difficult to explain why we like setting summer goals so much. When I post about them, I feel like it makes us look nerdy and kind of intense. But the reality is, these goals are actually A) fun things we already want to do,  B) a way for us to intentionally connect as a family, C) a chance to learn and improve skills, D) an opportunity to help out around the house, and E) an easy way to keep academics fresh and sharp. (And yes, I really did just give you a lettered list of reasons because I actually am nerdy and intense.)

The lack of other plans has actually given my kids quite a bit more time to work on goals than they usually have, and they are consequently flying through them. We pretty much never finish everything on their lists, but I think we're going to come close this time.

From youngest to oldest, here are the things we're working on (and even though I don't personally have any goals, I always include myself when I talk about them because they often require quite a bit of time and effort from me as well).

Ian, age 3
  • Learn to pump a swing (I didn't take into account that this would be a difficult goal to achieve since we left our swingset behind at the old house and we aren't going to any playgrounds . . . )
  • Put together a 48-piece puzzle (he's making progress, but it's not clicking as fast as it did with the other boys)
  • Learn solfeggio (this one is going surprisingly well; Bradley and Clark do it with us, and it's been really fun. I'm using these videos to guide me with the order to teach the syllables/pitches and which songs to use)
  • Learn the letters and sounds (he's pretty good at this one despite very little help from me)
  • Learn to write name (he has one of the easiest names to write, especially if using all uppercase letters, so I'm feeling confident he can do this one)
  • Make bed (he moved to a regular-sized twin when we moved, and I'm embarrassed to say I still haven't purchased a twin-size comforter for him, so that makes "making a bed" a bit difficult)
  • Get dressed independently (this has been the cause of some truly epic tantrums, but I'm happy to say, he's doing it very well now)

Clark, age 6
  • Complete four units in piano books (Clark has really taken to piano this summer, and he's been making great progress)
  • Learn solfeggio
  • Write in journal (His journal entries are the cutest things--I will love looking back on these someday)
  • Family book club (I selected Alvin Ho for our book club this year, specifically because I knew it was a book Clark would be able to read, and I wanted him to be able to participate with us)
  • First grade math workbook (For some reason, Maxwell has taken it upon himself to be Clark's math tutor; I'm not complaining)
  • Science experiment kit (I bought this kit over a year ago and then promptly forgot about it; Clark found it one day and begged to do it for one of his summer goals; it came with twelve experiments, and he and Bradley have been doing it together with practically no help from me)
  • Throw and catch a frisbee
  • Make phone calls (I keep forgetting to have him work on this one; it feels like we're in an age where we don't use the phone as an actual phone very often)
  • Identify 50 states (He loves this one, mostly because we practice with chocolate chips)
  • Clean bathroom counter, toilet, and mirror
  • Memorize address and Dad's phone number (we moved, so he needed to learn our new address)
  • Memorize three scriptures
  • Creative Kids Art Camp (I bought this class for Bradley and Clark to do together; it includes 35 lessons, so it's a really great value, but unfortunately, they haven't loved it so far)
  • Learn rules of chess (if chess club ever starts up again, I know Clark's going to want to join, so I want him to know the basics)
  • Three family hikes

Bradley, age 8.5
  • Complete four units in piano books (I use this method for my students, in case you're interested)
  • Science experiment kit
  • Learn solfeggio 
  • Third grade math workbook (Bradley tells me this is the most boring math book ever, but I only have him do one page at a time, so I don't think he's suffering too badly)
  • Sewing lessons (We chose three projects from this book; so far he has made a drawstring bag and a picture frame; Max is doing it too, and we've been having so much fun with it)
  • Family 5K (We've been running multiple times a week; at the end of the summer, we'll map out our own course and run it as a family)
  • Memorize three scriptures
  • Load/unload the dishwasher
  • Learn solfeggio
  • Family book club
  • Bake cookies (I like this goal a little too much; I am more than happy to let him bake cookies anytime he wants to)
  • Online coding (He has been using this free program)
  • Three family hikes
  • Complete one unit from Mystery Science (I used Mystery Science with Aaron this past school year, and since I still owned a subscription to it, I decided I might as well take advantage of it by having Max and Bradley complete a unit of their choosing; I really love this science curriculum)
  • Creative Kids Art Camp
  • Walk/run to Sonja's house (Bradley really wanted to see if he could walk to his aunt's from our house; she lives about two miles away, so it wasn't hard, but we hadn't ever done it before)

Maxwell, age 10
  • Complete three units in piano books
  • Family 5K
  • Sewing lessons
  • Learn conducting patterns (3/4, 4/4, etc.) (He has been able to put his new skills to use since we are still having church at home)
  • Family book club
  • Memorize three scriptures
  • Sweep and mop
  • Snack camp (When I heard that Emily of One Lovely Life was putting together an online snack camp, I thought it would be just the thing for Max. While it turned out not to be as much actual instructions for kids as I thought it would be, he has still enjoyed making the recipes)
  • Online coding
  • Document summer through creative writing (This can be a poem, comic strip, essay, fictionalized story, etc. The idea is just that he is making a record of his summer in a creative way)
  • Read through a world atlas (I like this one from National Geographic. He probably won't make it all the way through it this summer, and that's okay)
  • Fifth grade math workbook
  • Make dinner (He has been making dinner about once a week with help from Mike)
  • Three family hikes
  • Complete one unit from Mystery Science

Aaron, age 12
  • Complete three units in piano books
  • Learn three hymns (He has been playing them for our home church, which is so nice)
  • Sew on a button (He wasn't as interested in the sewing lessons as Max and Bradley, but I still felt like this was an important skills for him to have)
  • Family 5K
  • Check fluids in car (I could use a lesson in this myself)
  • Practice trombone (He basically took this last year off, but he would really like to participate in band when it's possible again, so he's trying to revive his skills)
  • Make dinner
  • Digital literacy online class (He wanted to free up a couple of credits in his fall schedule for another elective, so he decided to do one of the required classes over the summer so he could just get it over with; it has taken up a lot of the time that he would normally be spending on other goals)
  • Algebra workbook
  • Memorize three scriptures
  • Build shelves with Dad (they did this one at the beginning of the summer when they made shelves for literally every closet in this house)
  • Use iMovie to make a summer video (I bought this course for some basic video editing help; it's a good one, but I only recommend it if you have an Apple computer)
  • Family book club
  • Three family hikes
  • Listen to news podcast one time each week (We've been doing this one together; we choose an episode from The Daily and then discuss it after we're done; it has been a great way for him to keep up with current events over the summer)
  • First aid and CPR class (I don't know if this one is going to happen, honestly. I wasn't able to find a good online class, and I don't know if he's going to have time for it anyway after he finishes his digital literacy class)
  • Sort, wash, dry, fold laundry

As usual, these goals fit into three broad categories of fun, academic, and practical. At the end of each month, we will celebrate their progress with a family prize. Last month, we went to the geode beds, and this month, we'll either do a backyard camping trip or get a new lawn game.

These goals are very much about the process and not the end results. Little by little, we chip away at them, and at the end of the summer, we're always amazed at what we accomplished.

If you have any questions, I'll do my best to answer them. For more ideas, check out these posts from the past.


  1. You seriously inspire me sooo much! I think you're absolutely amazing. I've been thinking about starting to teach my oldest the piano (I'll eventually transition her to a different teacher that's not me, but I'm thinking of at least teaching her the basics.) What year did you start teaching your boys? And do you have any advice for teaching your own kids? I taught a little bit when I was in high school, but my students were only a couple years younger than I was, so I don't really have experience with anyone younger than about 10.

    1. That’s a great question! My kids have all been between 4 and 6 when I started. I kind of waited for them to show an interest in it (it helps when they have older siblings who are already playing). When I’m starting other students besides my kids, I like the 6-8 range better because they really need a ton of parental support if they’re younger than that, and many parents aren’t willing to commit. I love the My First Piano Adventures series for young students. Start with level A—the lesson and writing books. I would say, it can’t hurt to start. If she loves it, great. If she doesn’t, just take a break and try again in a year or so. Good luck!

  2. I loved having my kids learn to cook, and it has paid off. This summer the youngest does all the dinner cooking. I still plan the meals, but he executes them, and by now the planning can be something like "make a salad" and the result is much better than I would have done (my idea of a salad has slowly dissolved to "open a bag". The boy insists on dressings and stuff.).


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