I love spring, but I am beginning to hate the decisions that come with it. It seems that the day we returned from spring break the chatter turned to summer and (even worse) next fall. Sheesh.
As a kid, I remember lots of morning television and freezer waffles and hours upon hours of unaccounted for time. We rode bikes and talked on the phone and chased the ice cream truck for 50 cent push pops.
I swam on a swim team but that was my only formal activity. I have no recollection of camps until I was in high school and begged to attend field hockey camp at the local university. I regretted that decision every minute of the two weeks that the camp lasted. I still get chills just thinking about it.
This year I have a son entering Kindergarten in the fall. His school holds a “Summer Academy” that sounds fun and full of great enrichment activities. Here’s the problem: Summer Academy takes place in the Summer. As a former educator, I understand the appeal of summer programs for high risk populations. When you send a kid home for six weeks to a place where little English is spoken, they can lose an entire year of learning. In theory, I think the Summer Academy is phenomenal. My hats go off to the teachers and staff that give their time and the parents who make sure their kids attend. However, as a parent I’m not sure I’ll enroll my own kid.
I am an old fashioned believer in the lazy days of summer. And summer gets shorter and shorter every year. Double that with my belief that as a stay-at-home mom my job is to entertain for July and August, not ship my charges off so someone else can care for them 9-5. If I did that, I’d get a day job.
Getting ready to swim at the beach should be the only responsibility my kids have for two months. They work hard during the school year. They get up early. They do homework when they could be playing outside. As a family we have enriching experiences at museums and parks and on walks or trips to the city. My kids love to read and so far I’m not at all worried about their academic standing or their life experience.
What I am worried about is their childhood. I worry about their ability to entertain themselves and learn from their surroundings. That is what summer is good for. They can sort shells into categories. They can create entire plays on our backyard stage. They can make friends with the kid who has the cool beach toys and then write in their journals about their adventures with those friends. They can finally learn to ride their darn bikes!
There is plenty of learning, plenty of enrichment and maybe most importantly, plenty of lazy during our summers. So, I’m taking it back-summer that is. I’m taking a stand against over-programming and only signing my kids up for fun-not “enrichment”. We may attend drama camp for a week. We might trek to swim lessons (that’s a safety issue) and we might play at the local church camp because “all our friends are going”. But overall, we’ll eat toaster waffles and make sand castles and read books…all without the aid of any Academies.
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