School’s Out! (With Words This Time)

School let out for the summer at noon yesterday, and a group of care-free children got off the big yellow bus and took their customary after-school stroll down the sunny street to their respective homes.  They were notably more boisterous and giddy than usual as they sang familiar songs such as "School’s out, school’s out, teacher let the monkey’s out…" and I’ll spare you the last two lines.  I’m sure you remember them well, cause there’s really nothing new in the world, is there?

D entered the house and carelessly slung his backpack into its usual corner of the foyer, because, you know, it would be far too tasking to take an extra ten steps and place it in the laundry room where it officially belongs. 

After a nutritious lunch of Kraft Mac-and-Cheese, I grabbed the grungy backpack for the last time this year.  I sorted through papers, unfinished workbooks, laminated nametags, a pencil box containing an assortment of crayons and pencils and scissors, and about five or fifty empty granola bar wrappers. 

I emptied out the manila "communications folder" for the last time and found D’s final report card buried inside along with his teacher assignment and school supplies list for the 2nd grade.  (Today, I officially have a 2nd grader.  HOW did this happen?  And do they honestly expect me to keep track of this supply list until it’s time to purchase school supplies for next year?)   

I saved a few pertinent keepsakes and tossed the rest of the miscellany in the trash, backpack and all, a liberating experience to say the least!

Then I retired to my front porch to leisurely review D’s final first grade evaluation while the neighborhood kids gathered in our yard for an afternoon of splashing in the pool, riding bikes, and various backyard games that have no names or official instructions, only the flexible rules that exist in the minds of the children that play them.

Ahhhh… SUMMER.  There is no time of year I like more.  The lazy mornings, the warm hazy days at the swimming pool, the muggy evening ice cream runs, I love it ALL!

Now, I’m not a scheduled person. AT. ALL.  And I don’t have a lot of rules.  But I am a creature of habit, so I tend to develop basic routines.  And I have a funny feeling that my comfy routines are about to be disrupted. 

So today I’m working on figuring out a new summer routine.  And I need to set up some basic "ground rules" for the kids.
My son, in particular, is the kind of kid whose expectations need to be
managed delicately. 

And frankly, I need to manage my own expectations, because I have come to enjoy a new-found time to myself in the mornings.  For the last couple months, I’ve been getting up early, walking, and having my morning coffee along with a brief time of prayer and meditation before I have to wake my son and get him off to school.  And then once he’s on the bus, I usually have more time to work play on the computer before the girls get up.  I have come to expect getting this time to myself.

But today my son bounded out of bed at 7am, right as I was opening my Bible and taking my first sip of coffee.  (Why is it that I had to drag him out of bed at 7:30 every morning to get him to school on time, but now that he has no obligations, he is up with the birds??  Can anyone explain this phenomenon???)

I was about to tell him this was my time and he should find something quiet to do when I realized that this might be the best time of the day to spend with him, when his sisters are blissfully sleeping and he has no friends vying for his attention.  So instead of shooing him off to play video games or organize his baseball cards, I invited him to join me in my Bible reading. 

Then he asked me to read him a chapter of the book we’ve been reading together, so we curled up on the couch together while I read.  By that time, I figured I’d paid my dues, so I told him I was going to take some computer time, but he wanted to play Sorry!   I started to tell him we could play later when I remembered that it’s virtually impossible to play board games with R the Menace running about, so we played a rousing game of Sorry!  (He won, how rude!)

By then I figured I had definitely earned my computer time, so I sent D off to play in the street earn some video game time with independent reading, and I set off to charm the Internets with my witty and profound thoughts and observations mundane deliberations about our summer routines.

So.  If you have kids, what are your basic "ground rules" for summer vacation?  Do you turn the TV off for a few months?  Or are you more lax about TV rules because it is, after all, vacation? 

Do you make your kids do any school work to keep their skills up?  Do you do any special projects or enrichment activities with your kids?

Do you schedule lots of summer camps and activities, or do you consider summer a time to relax and be free of scheduling obligations? 

Please, SHARE!  Inquiring minds wanna know!

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13 thoughts on “School’s Out! (With Words This Time)

  1. This post was very interesting to me. My oldest will be heading off to Kindergarten in the fall & my middle son will be going to pre-k 5 days a week! I find myself thinking about putting off doing whatever they want to do. Like, I really don’t feel like shlepping them all to the pool EVERY DAY. But then I think that I only have about 2 short months to do WHATEVER WE WANT with them. So, it’s off to the pool AGAIN.

  2. SlowMo goes to my parent’s house for 1 month every summer. So, she’s gone now…and there she gets to so WHATEVER she wants. Ok, they follow the two big rules which is no pg-13 movies and no caffiene, other than that, there’s no bedtime and she watches tv to her hearts content (we don’t watch tv at home, ever….except for movie), and then she’s going to church camp for a week at the end of July. I’ve never had her do any work to keep up with school in the summer, gag! I would have hated that when I was a kid! She gets all A’s anyway, so I don’t worry about her. Once she gets home she’ll be outside everyday playing with the dreaded twins..ugh, those little girls make me crazy! But other than that we’re mostly relaxed. We’re going to a waterpark in July too.

  3. I noticed the same thing with my youngun’s that I had to drag them from bed to go to school and now they are jumping up with the sunrise! Our summer is pretty laid back and scheduless. We do a lot of day trips to zoo’s, museums, aquariums’s, and spend many days at the beach since we live right by it. The kids are in swimming lessons, but other than that we haven’t started summer camps. Although only because I am selfish and want my kids to myself and don’t want to run around everywhere. I figured that one day they will ask to do camps during the summer and then I will have to reconsider, but until then what they don’t know is out there won’t hurt them or take them away from me!! As far as summer school work as a teacher I should probably say oh yes we work for a certain amount of time a day, but I would be lying my butt off!! While Zoe is taking her afternoon nap I do ask that Dylan rests and read some books, but he enjoys it so much that I don’t feel that I am being to mean! He also is working on his workbooks on his own so I feel pretty confident that he won’t go too rusty over the summer. I think it is wonderful that you took the time to hang out with David this morning. It probably meant the world to him!! It sounds like you are off to a great summer vacation.

  4. Since I work, my daughter goes to day camp @ our local YMCA. She has a lot of fun there, but she’s go to get up most mornings to go out the door with me on my way to work. Still, I try to be lax about rules like bedtime (she falls asleep anyway). We spend evenings out most of the time…watching ballgames & getting ice cream.

    This summer, she’s going away to camp three times, for a week each.

    I’ll be working on reading & some grammar skills this summer, too. 4th grade will be tough, and I don’t want her to fall behind out of the blocks. (she’s a math/science gal, like her dad)

    Happy Summer! 😀

  5. You know, when my kids were this little, there were no ground rules. After nine months of four people frantically getting off to school and work on time, and endless homework every night, summertime was pretty darn casual and ruleless. I guess the one rule was no sleepovers at my house without at least asking me first! LOL

    As they got a little older, summer became an endless round of ballgames and gymnastics meets. So enjoy this time when all the ground rules aren’t very important at all.

  6. My oldest just finished 1st grade also. Last summer I had NO rules and it was a nightmare. This summer the only ground rules I have is:
    1. Naptime for the youngest means quiet time for the oldest. This is the time that he can use his imagination all he wants in his room. He reads, creates things, sets up Star Wars battles, etc. He loves quiet time.
    2. The TV only comes on in the morning while mom is trying to wake up with coffee.

    The rest of the time they play outside or we go do something that’s summer-y (go to the pool, amuzement park, get a snowcone, play putt-putt, etc.)

    Oh yeah, he has a book review once a week. It keeps him up on his reading and writing.

  7. School’s been out for a couple of weeks here, and I will readily admit that the first week we were without structure or order. However, I find that for my kids, a loose hourly schedule works well to keep “boredom” and restlessness at bay. If they don’t want to do what’s on the schedule, then they can read books in their room. Unless it’s chore time, of course.

    We will probably be doing a couple of sports camps for the older girls, so they’ll be exposed to more options before they decide to ditch softball.

    I bought a few simple workbooks for the summer, and we’ll do a page every other day or so. I’ve heard that they lose a frightening portion of what they’ve learned over the summer. It helps, of course, that my girls enjoy learning!

    And it looks like my oldest may be going to CA for a few weeks to stay with Nana and Grandpa. WAh!

  8. Sounds to me like you got started on the right track… I could take a page from your book, and instead of making my son stay in his room while the girls nap for some “quiet time,” I should be spending that time with him somehow.

    I don’t think you need suggestions from me…I’m learning from you. Thank you for sharing.

  9. My baby is too young for school or summer break. But what I always liked about summer was doing things I never did during the school year! More fun stuff than just watching TV. I want summer to be an exciting time! (But yeah, that would be after the coffee and at least with an 8 am wake up call!)

  10. We watch slightly more TV, generally in the morning before we start our day. Then it stays off until I am making dinner.

    We don’t do camp, except for the two weeks when we go up to my mom’s place on the beach, then they go to a little half-day camp that I used to go to as a child.

    I do make everyone spend time (I aim for an hour plus, it usually ends up being 45 minutes or so) in their rooms right after lunch. They can play, read, listen to CD’s, whatever, but they must stay fairly quiet.

    We tend to do day trips a lot, as we don’t generally do any during the year. This summer we are doing swim lessons one day a week and are keeping up with gymnastics one day a week so they can burn off some energy when it gets too hot to run around outside.

  11. Great post & comments. My oldest finished 1st grade on Friday, so we also are trying to figure out our summer routine. Next week he starts summer camp classes for a few hours each week for 6 weeks. He’s been doing a couple new chores and we’ll try to hit the library regularly. Overall, we’re a little more lax during summer, but still need to find the balance between tv, computer, reading and play time.

    I will probably give up my alone time while the girls nap to spend quality time with my guy. I’m still in shock that he’s a 2nd grader!!

  12. I usually force my kids to go outside and play. I have to force them because of the air conditioning. When we didn’t have it, they played outside without being forced.:-p

    We usually do some kind of “school” during summer. Usually I manage this by saying “Let’s play school!” and I let one of them be the teacher! ha, aren’t I the tricky one 😉

    We just bought them a small blow-up pool. We had a big one last year, but we couldn’t afford the electricity to run the filter! So we downsized big time, but they are very thrilled about it 🙂

    I sense a new tool in my bag to get them to clean house! YES!


  13. This is my first summer as a part-time WOHM. The first three summers of having a school aged child were spent with us both sleeping blissfully late, gorging on fruit loops, playing endless games of “puppy”, reading and then going to the pool. I find as she gets older she wants to be out and about more. We have, hopefully, reached a balance of a week at a fun camp, a week home, some Grandma time and then some travel time.

    I LOL’d at your comment about the school supply list ? We thumbtacked it right to her bulletin board, but geez…three whole months to lose that sucker !

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