Montessori Field Notes: Simplicity Summer


Q: How do I keep the summer simple, like it was when I was a child?  I'm afraid my kids will be bored out of their minds and will drive me crazy!

- Erica

Dear Erica,

Have you ever heard the lyrics to the song, “Tis a Gift to Be Simple?"

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,

'Tis the gift to come down where I ought to be;

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained,

To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed;

to turn, turn, will be my delight.

Till by turning, turning we come round right.

Our inner child envisions summer with bare feet, popsicles, and fireflies. Our memories recall a joyful dance of our senses that captures childhood at its finest; a screen-free, unhurried, and imaginative time when nature and childhood held hands in peace.

Often when we are seeking something good, we lose our peace when our efforts to obtain that feeling or goal are met with more stress, and unrealistic expectations.

Perhaps we think if we cannot create a carefree summer for our family, then we should try to micromanage it and fill it with plans, schedules, and checklists to avoid the disappointment.

I want to offer a beautiful thought that Thomas Moore wrote in his book, Care of the Soul.  Family, he wrote, is “the nest in which the soul is born, nurtured and released into life.” These words inspire a few ideas that will help shape a summer that encourages a haven for days that are filled with both the past and the present.

A 2022 version of the “good old days”

Routine and Predictable Expectations:

  • Work out a loose routine that makes the day flow as smoothly as possible for your unique family.
  • Set predictable expectations for everyone: (eg. How are we moving, eating, sleeping and learning).
  • Have family meetings in place to figure out what is working and what is standing in the way of more simple days.

Purposeful Activities:

  • Feed their development and your needs with daily and weekly activities that make contributions to your nuclear family and those around you.
  • Encourage daily journaling, reading, and sharing care-tasks for the home and self. Get everyone working as a team because there is time for collaboration.
  • Approaching the needs of the home and community is worthy of everyone’s time.

Shared Time:

Memories are often born in our days outside of our homes. 
We have six people in our family. I often designate one day per person to “pick our activity and choose the menu” in the summer. Certain members of the family love to do “every-day” practical errands and even choose activities at home! Other children love to go on big excursions. I think there is room for all. I like to designate a block of time every day for shared time. Even if we don’t “feel like it”, it’s always worth the effort. It becomes a main focal point for our daily summer flow.

Steps Towards Success:

Prepare yourself: Write a note to your September self about the summer days you and your children experienced this year. Write a sample of what a day was like. Write a sample of your favorite moments. Without putting too much pressure on yourself: DREAM.

Prepare the environment: Read your note and begin taking simple and practical steps to encourage your dreams to become shared experiences with your children and spouse. This isn’t found in an Amazon cart or an epic family meeting. This starts by taking small yet intentional steps, and creates enough space for those around you to join in.

Here's to a slow and connected summer!


Meghan Rinehart


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