Summertime often brings mixed emotions for parents because while we certainly appreciate the break from the school schedule and associated homework woes, it can be hard to figure out what to do with our kids once we are together 24-7, especially when there are work commitments involved. My daughter heads to kindergarten in the fall and it is truly exciting to see her move-on from her daycare/pre-school years, but a summer at home with her brother is not something I think any of us are prepared for - the sibling rivalry has indeed begun!
I started to feel the anxiety of what the summer calendar was going to look like around the time my mom let me know when she wanted to go on vacation and when she wanted the kids to come to Vacation Bible School in Vienna. Nothing like Granny lighting the fire under my summer planning!
Between talking to parents about their summer plans, researching community resources, and reading the Fred Parent website, I think I have definitely been provided with lots of information about the different camps that are available during the summer. I was overwhelmend and excited by all the possibilities. As I thought about what to do, I knew what I was searching for was striking the balance between family time, free time, and something structured. You know, the Holy Grail of Summertime Planning!
Camps, when organized well, teach our children something new as well as help them continue to develop their psycho-social skills amongst their peers (something I think is even more important when they meet new kids outside their school district). Yet, it can be hard to figure out the scheduling and financial priorities when determining which camps to select. I went back and forth about our schedules and what the choices were and made the actually surprising decision to not register the kids for anything, except Vacation Bible School, which has the built-in Granny Nanny.
I decided I wanted to be the camp counselor instead. And, Steve, always supportive of my whacky, make many lists, decision-making process, is ready to be co-counselor and special assistant of transportation services.
Both our children will be heading into new school environments come fall and while I think they are academically ready, they have shown the signs of fear, anger, and resentment that often bubble up when change and the unknown is on the horizon. Something they know all too well. They are kids, a summer of fun is certainly in order, but I think spending time with them, to help them build their confidence and resilience is just as important. And, as parents, there is always room for us to learn something new too.
Recently, I've been reading various excerpts and book reviews on "How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success" by Julie Lythcott-Haims. In an article with Lythcott-Haims, a really informative list was created: 12 Basic Skills Every Kid Should Know By High School. Each of these skills will have some age-appropriate judgment calls, but I like the idea that I can create a camp on this concept. I've already started to prepare the kids by asking them what is important to them, what do they want to learn. Additionally, we've been working hard at making sure we don't talk for them at restaurants, banks, grocery stores, or any opportunity they have to make eye contact, use their please and thank-you's, etc.
My sister, a former employee of the Smithsonian and National Building Museum, always reminds me to check out the camps that are taking place in our nation's capital museums. It's fun to see the curriculum of these camps, it sparks creativity in what you can do with your own kids. For example, the National Building Museum will be conducting a camp where participants go and tour parks in the city and then design a park of their own. I'll be using the Fredericksburg Parks and Recreation Passport program, in partnership with Wegmans to explore our parks, get some exercise, and have fun designing parks with the kid! Just go to the Parks & Rec department to pick up passports.
Congratulations on getting through another 180+ days of backpacks, lunchbags, projects, recitals, and meetings. Here's to you and all you do (or not do) this summer! I hope it's a great one filled with lemonade and lightning bugs, fireflies and flip-flops.