I realize that in a good year, there are certain things I do throughout the summer that makes the school year go more smoothly. Last year was not a good year and I had zero desire to do anything, much less think about school. Stress will do that to you. So, if you are feeling as though you are barely keeping your head above water because various of your children are going through a rougher patch than normal, just don't read this; you don't need more guilt. For you I would prescribe respite in any way you can get it and doing the much harder work of connecting with your child. Been there, done that, we're in a much better place this year.
I think because there has been such a difference between this year and last that I am more aware of what normal looks like, as opposed to just survival. I realized that there some important things I do now that makes for a smoother school year. Here is my short list.
1. I clean my house. Let's be honest and say that cleaning is rather cursory during the school year. Life is busier, school does take time and effort, and schedules are more hectic. It all adds up after a while and when summer comes I look around and realize that things have really gone down hill. I have spent that past few weeks going through the house a room at a time and really cleaning... and putting away... and straightening. I'm a great one for piling when busy and so those need to be excavated as well. It feels so good to restore order again. I feel as though I can think. And breath. And relax. Having a clean house is a good thing.
2. Reorganize my homeschool supplies. These, too, get a little chaotic during the school year. Children look at books and I pull out things and then pile them over and over again. Plus, I don't use my resource room as much because I've done my planning for the year and I forget what is there. By reorganizing it, I make it usable again, plus I remind myself of what is there. I also use this time to purge things we don't need or want anymore. As my children grow and change, there are things that we are done with or interests have changed or just never worked out. I don't need their clutter or the collective guilt the failed resources bring.
3. I do a lot of brainstorming and research and a lot of list making. What would be interesting to learn about this year? What are my children's current interests? What resources would be good to use to learn about these things? Plus my continual and ever present search for new chapter books to read aloud. By doing this work gradually during the summer, it makes the actual planning for the school year a bit easier. It also serves another purpose in that it helps me get excited for another year of learning with my children. This will be my 17th year of homeschooling and it takes some effort to keep up the excitement of what I'm doing. Planning new studies and projects keeps things interesting for me as well.
I know it's hard to think about school during summer break, but none of these things is terribly hard, and they do go along way to a smoother school year.