It’s here: the end of the school year! The last month of the school year is not unlike the last month of pregnancy. Women are tired, worn out and don’t care anymore about the pain that is coming their way. The goal? Get the baby here! May is that month; it is full of recitals, graduations, end-of-season games and tournaments, award ceremonies and yes, homework. We are just ready for school to let out and summer vacation to start. But, after the first few days of “nothing to do” and prematurely bored children, summer, like a newborn baby, brings challenges and frustrations all its own.
I think it’s important to remember that we are not the entertainment committee for our children. Let them play, let them get bored, let them figure out what to do when they get bored. On the other hand, a little planning made the summer a little more fun for all of us. I learned that although summer doesn’t need to be as structured as the school year, a little structure and planning went a long way. Every year on the first day of summer vacation, the kids and I would sit down and have what we called a “Summer Summit.” Everyone, including me, got to say what they would like to do.
The various ideas were discussed, sometimes modified and written down on the list. Because the kids were part of the planning, I rarely had any pushback and summer (for the most part) was a fun time. Did it get long at the end? Yes. But, that’s just nature’s way of making us all want school to start again! Here are some of the things we did:
1. Library Day: Once a week, we would go to the library. This was fun for the kids of all ages, and we would participate in the library’s summer reading program. If the kids read a certain amount of books each week, they received coupons to Arby’s, Dairy Queen or Pizza Hut. On library day, we would go to the library and then go spend their coupons for lunch. Summer is a good time to work with your non-readers, helping them find the right books to spark their interest and improve their reading skills. It also helped with bedtime. Even though there was not school for them in the morning, MY daily hours did not change and, in fact, summer brought with it an extra amount of busy for me throughout the day. But, it is hard to convince kids it is bedtime when the sun is still in the sky. In what for me was a definite win/win situation, I always had the kids go to bed half an hour early and then gave them 30 minutes of reading time. We did this throughout the year, but in the summer, it gave me a needed ending point to the day. When reading time was through, the sun would be setting and their body clocks would acknowledge that it was time for sleeping.
2. Summer School or other programs: Unless there is an academic reason to do so, I would only enroll my children in fun, try-something-new type classes like art, theater, astronomy, etc. It was a great way to keep their brains working while trying out something creative and new.
The classes usually lasted about six weeks and by the time I got tired of taxing them back and fo