Just living my life, and making it work!

Posts tagged ‘School’

Why I Don’t Make My Kids Read Or Do School Work Over The Summer

The first weeks of summer my Facebook news feed was full of ambitious summer home education plans. I started seeing posts on limits of screen time, mandatory reading time, and a host of educational websites for learning activities and printable worksheets on line. I am tempted to follow suit as it seems that is what “good” parents do, but then I remember “because everyone else is dong it.” is not a good parenting  strategy.  I have decided not to do any of that stuff, and here’s why.

Summer is a season of rest. 

During the school year our days are a blur. We get up early, spend 8 plus hours a day at school, do homework, run between dance and martial arts, and fall into bed half dead by 8:00. Ok so that is the goal, but often it is actually closer to 9:00. During the summer we do a few church camp things, but we have no extra curricular activities, and no set scheduled when we can help it. 

Summer is for family time:

We are so busy during the school year that we never see each other. Someone is constantly gone to something, and we just don’t have time to bond together as a whole family. My children play together like no other in the summer. When they get board they start making up their own games. Their relationship with the school system will last 20 years or so. Their relationship with each other will last a life time, and at some point I won’t be around to facilitate that. 

Summer is for Self Exploration

We provide a wide variety of materials and toys, and our kids pick out what they want to do with them. If they find something on YouTube or the Internet they want to learn more about we help cultivate their interest. This summer one of my children learned to sew and knit. Another learned about animals, and the boys learned about electric circuits. 

Summer is for FUN!

During the school year we have no time for fun activities like flying kites at the park, or going swimming, or doing Lego lab at the library. One of our favorite things to do is feed the ducks at the pond, have lunch in the park,  and go to our local children’s science  museum. 

Summer is not for “getting ahead” or “falling behind” for average students. 

 To be sure there are some kids who need the extra help. In fact I was one of them. I spent two hours a day in  tutoring during the summers in 3 rd and 4 th  grade. I couldn’t  add 2+2, but soon I was cought up to my peers. I never did school work in the summer again. I still managed to not only get into college, but I did very well.  The point being if my kids are headed for an acedimic life it will happen without me riding them to read daily or do math worksheets all summer. 

School Supply Shopping Or Sadistic Scavenger Hunt?

This will be my daughter’s first year in public school. As such it is my first experience with school supply shopping. I had listened to my friends complain about this aspect of child rearing, but never really understood what the big deal was. It seemed fairly straight forward. You get the list, you go to the store, you buy what is on the list, right? So I print the list for First Grade off my district’s website, and make what I expected to be a short trip to the WalMart.

I was completely unprepared for the sadistic scavenger hunt I would soon find myself in. First, the school supply isle was covered up with people. I didn’t expect the crowds because school was still a good three weeks away. I still managed to get everything on the list without much trouble. There seemed to be plenty of the things on my list, and I was excited about the adorable NEON pencils I’d found for her.

I was somewhat pleased with myself that I had printed the list before hand, and had completed my task quickly. UNTIL… I walked by the real school supply list. Apparently each school produces its own list each year. Neat! So I looked at the list ( after digging out my magnifier to read the poorly copied ant sized font) and nearly fainted. Not only were there three times the items on this new list, but the items were completely different! The only thing the lists had in common was scissors and pencils. Not just any scissors, but Fiscar scissors. AND not just any pencils, but yellow boring No2 pencils. Good bye totally awesome NEON pencils. Now, not only did I have to completely start over, but I had to put EVERYTHING I already got back! Ugh thank God my husband was there, and offered to return the original supplies.

Long story short we developed a system. Scott stood a little outside the chaos and read the list while I collected the items. Fully sighted school supply hunting is fun on its own, but it is super fun doing it with limited vision. I cannot stand in the back, scan the scissors, and reach over someone’s shoulders to get the brand you need. I have to fight my way to the front, grab a pair of scissors, pull it close enough to my face to read the brand. Then if it is not right I have to put it back, pull the next one down, and check that one. This went on item by item for about an hour and a half! See, super neat!

I was finally down to pencils and hand sanitizer. My heart sinks when I see a huge completely empty box where the boring yellow No2 pencils should be. Really?!?!? I can’t just hop in my car and go to a different store. Just then I hear my husband shout ” She’s got pencils!” the crowd suddenly stopped what they were doing, and descended on the poor woman like seagulls at a picnic. There laying on the floor was a box of unstocked pencils! Now I am normally a nice wait your turn kind of girl, but you better believe I pushed my way in to get the pencils I needed. I was finally DONE!!

As I sat back and surveyed the $60 worth of school supplies in my cart I was incredibly humbled and great full that we were able to buy these school supplies. My daughter’s school is 80% economically depressed, and struggle to get the school supplies they need each year. As difficult as it was for me to gather all the supplies at least I didn’t spend the time worrying how i was going to pay for it all. After realizing this I felt very silly about how frustrated I got over something as temporary and ultimately unimportant as school supply shopping.