Published on Wednesday, 07 September 2011 09:27
As summer comes to a close, I’m finally getting over my “chronic state of anxiety.” See, the kids are in school 9.5 months a year. And during that time there are only intermittent days that are truly “free.” After necessary household chores, administrative tasks, and obligatory social events are accounted for….really, there are only a few days left in a given month to really plan family time together.
So I enthusiastically anticipated summer. This was the first summer I’d have more control of my work schedule such that I can finally work more from home, than leaving to a “worksite.” This means – I am home when the kids are home! And after reading about the academic back-sliding so common among American children (in an increasingly competitive global population) I was determined to simultaneously offer the children a unique summer *curriculum* that, while educational, is fun and family oriented.
So, I spent hours on the computer investigating summer camps, programs, and educational opportunities. I decided I wanted each child to experience a fine art, performing art, a sport, acquire an academic skill, and learn on the go. Of course I wanted all of this to be enjoyable…but I honestly felt that as long as we were together, and the kids had our attention, they were going to be happy!
SO, I signed each kid of for *their own* sport (swimming and basketball) so that each can feel special as they develop their athletic skill. Everyone was introduced to horseback riding and the piano. I researched and learned how to teach basic photography skills to my daughter. We went through how to compose a photographic journal. Along with this, I downloaded some typing programs, and taught her how to type. We read a book for a book club together. And I took her to yoga classes and we worked on meditation.
With my son we went to art/paint class, and his father actually took him to museums, and together they read science magazines. Got out the telescope and star-gazed, appreciating the rings of Saturn with our own eyes! Also, we found age-appropriate media outlets to supplement his developing interest in science. He was too young to participate in official summer science camps…so we had to make our own.
We took a big trip up the East Coast and stopped along to way to explore and appreciate the historical and pop-culture elements that each location had to offer – including the big stops of Washington DC and New York City.
Of course the summer was sprinkled with (almost) weekly summer movies, a few sleep-overs, water fun, and birthday parties. There were workbook assignments completed, reading and math flashcards reviewed, and creative writing opportunities given. We had cousins in from out of town and explored our home-town in more depth…and solidified relationships with extended family. AND as souvenirs of a fulfilling summer, the kids have tons of books, hand-painted T-shirts, collages of summer and our vacation, plus new typing, page lay-out, photography, swim, horseback-riding, yoga, meditation, basketball, and painting skills. Even the baby, though too young for many of the elementary aged structured activities, participated in most of the activities in an age appropriate manner.
And that was in just 11 weeks of summer!!
So now, as we ease into the last 2 weeks of summer break, I feel satisfied that the kids had a fantastic summer, full of educational activities, time with parents, and acquired new skills. This was *our* opportunity to supplement the rote academic education supplied by the school with a bit of hands-on experience, and introduction to “atypical” extracurricular activities that are only experienced by design. As we transition back to “school-life” we spend time reviewing grade level skills – such as multiplication tables, and writing skills. And when the photos finally arrive in the mail and the summer books authored by us are complete and in our hands…we will sit back, and constantly relive this wonderful summer “vacation.”