When you ask teachers what the biggest perk of their job is, they often say “having summers off.” Subs may enjoy the freedom of the season and more time off, but having a reduced income during those three months can present a challenge.
Here are 7 easy and low-cost ways to recharge during the summer, without breaking the bank.
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1. Reconnect with your creative side.
With more unstructured time, you can recommit to an artistic endeavor that you love. Whether it’s painting landscapes, dusting off your guitar, or working on your novel, exploring your creative side is more than just fun. Creative practice eases your stress, improves your cognitive functioning, and may even prevent dementia.
Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says, “When we are involved in creativity, we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life.” So, make the most of your summer and take the opportunity to do what you love. What’s more, many creative practices are low-cost or free.
2. Pick up a (real) book.
During the school year, you may read educational resources, explore assigned novels alongside your classes, or just be too busy for leisure reading. Summer is a great season to make up for lost pleasure reading time.
Any reading you do will help make you a better teacher come fall: it reduces stress, expands your vocabulary, and helps you be more empathetic. It’s also soothing and costs virtually nothing if you’re taking advantage of your public library or borrowing books from your friends. Consider joining a book club or becoming part of the library’s summer reading clubs, which are not just for kids anymore.
The summer months can be a great time to re-establish some healthy routines and take better care of your body. Choose an activity that you enjoy so you look forward to exercising. Yoga, swimming, and running are all great stress relievers.
And to keep the stress off your monthly budget, you can check out summer gym promotions that offer discounts on memberships, explore low-cost open swims or yoga classes at your local community center, or just head outside for a run in the nice summer weather.
While an extended trip abroad isn’t feasible every summer, short “staycations” certainly are. Even if you’re just visiting a new part of the state you live in or acting like a tourist in your own town, travel can broaden your horizon, give you a new perspective, and fill you with wonder. Seeing new sights and having new experiences can help invigorate you, and these trips are sure to energize your teaching, too.
5. Go outside.
Think back to those months when your alarm goes off while it’s still dark and you leave work in the afternoon only to have a couple hours of sunlight. Use the time now to take advantage of the higher temperatures and daylight and refill on fresh air, Vitamin D, and lots of greenery. After all, remember what Henry David Thoreau wrote:
“I cannot preserve my health and spirits unless I spend four hours a day at least—and it is commonly more than that—sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements.”
Multiple studies have shown that being outside makes us healthier in all kinds of ways. Whether your local walking path takes you through urban parks, suburban open space, or right through the middle of the woods, make it part of your daily routine to enjoy your natural surroundings.
6. Get organized.
If you’re like most subs, your level of organization wanes as the school year does. Take some joy in getting things prepped for next year: buy a new planner (or make your own), organize and restock your school supplies, and take some time to think about your goals for the year. When the school year starts again, you’ll be as prepared as possible.
7. Learn more.
Take this unstructured time to advance your career knowledge. Join some online teacher groups, further your education with a low-cost local class, or read some informational texts on the craft of teaching.
Here are some of our favorite educational blogs for inspiration:
Looking for more resources? Check out our 72+ Tips, Templates, and Classroom Resources for Substitute Teachers.