Technically, Memorial Day is a holiday that honors veterans who have died in wars, or in service to their country. It’s a solemn occasion that is worthy of the parades, services and events that take place over the three-day weekend.
But what Memorial Day also does is put out signal to parents, teachers and children that school is almost out, and that comes with a gamut of emotions depending on where you are on the spectrum.
They’re tired. They’ve been with our kids more than we have and more than they ‘ve been with their own. They’ve been writing lesson plans, breaking up skirmishes, catching the cooties, learning to pronounce names correctly, dealing with irate parents, and doing their best to make sure that some of what they teach sinks in to our kids heads long enough for them to perform on standardized tests all year long.
Ask a kid how many days are left before school is out and he or she will loudly and proudly shout out the magic number. Thoughts of summer still make the kids in us a little giddy. Sleeping in, staying up late, no more uniforms, homework is a thing of the past, swimming, camp, candy for breakfast…these are the fantasies they all have. Keeping their minds on school for the remainder of the time they have won’t be easy, especially if they can see you doing the happy dance in their peripheral vision. (The running man, really?)
Even if summer for your kids means continued learning, as it should, the good part is that it’s still a break from the monotony they’ve endured for the past nine months. Whether they’re headed to Big Mamas, a cool summer camp (keep reading) their dad’s house or summer school, it’s still something new so don’t even try to wipe that giddy smile off of their faces, it won’t work, I’ve tried.
Many of us are walking around in a daze and the least prepared we are, the “dazier” our expression. People in my building at work who have never spoken to me before have just randomly begun talking to me in the elevator. “ I don’t know what I’m going to do with my kids this summer.” And when they say “with my kids” the “while I’m at work” part is implied.
For working parents, school is not only a place for learning; it’s also free childcare. Even if you’re children are in private school, it’s “free your mind” child care because it’s one less thing for you to worry about.
Back in the day, most kids simply stayed home with a list of chores and rules while their parents went to work. A lot of kids and parents discovered that along with the chores a lot of other stuff could get squeezed into those eight unsupervised hours. Thank goodness the statute of limitations is up!
These days, most grownups, probably because of their own summer time antics, want their kids in productive, learning environments during their time off from school and there’s a gang of programs ready and willing to accept our checks. So here’s a tip. Look for free or reasonable ways to keep your children and teen’s minds and bodies busy. Even though studies show how important it is to for them to be engaged over the summer months, parents don’t have to go broke making it happen.
Here are some tips you might find helpful:
- The public library—it’s still one of the best bargains out there. Every child should have a summer reading list and if your school doesn’t provide you with one, the library will. Plus there are all kinds of free activities.
- Unite with other parents—find out what other kids are doing this summer and maybe you work something out together. This is when stay-at-home moms can become your new best friends. For a few bucks she might let your kids hang out her house. Make sure her kids are doing more than laying around playing video games all day though.
- Summer School—even if your kids are not required to go it can’t hurt.
- Sports—for middle and high school age kids, especially, they’re required to attend camps and training. Suddenly football and cheerleading is looking more attractive, huh?
- Vacation Bible School—if you play your cards right, you can have them enrolled at every church in town for free activities and meals. Uh…check out the churches’ doctrine to be sure they aren’t worshipping Satan.
- YMCA and other camps. Depending on your budget your kids can spend a summer at Hollywood Stunt Camp in Running Springs California or studying how sharks live in Fiji for $5,000. Somewhere in the middle though there are affordable camps for every hobby and interest, including enrichment classes for math, languages, biology, etc., and remember everything is negotiable. Many of these camps have scholarship and grant programs that make them affordable.
So, what are your kids doing this summer?