School's out for the summer(!)... and we are going to take our own advice from last year and try not to schedule too much at all. That includes posting to our blog. We'll be back in the fall with more Scoop. We hope you all have a fun summer!
Every year I have the same conversation with myself. “Self,” I say, “this summer you are not going to overschedule the kids. You are going to remember that less is more. You are going to have days, weeks, a month! – with the kids playing in their P.J.s all day, unless they need to put on their bathing suit. And you are not going to get suckered into signing the kids up for too many camps, no matter how amazing they sound. Period.”
Then, usually I turn around and do just the opposite. I fill the docket to exploding. I get excited about each of the fun things to fold into summer and BOOM, before you know it we are booked.
But this year, with conversations about the effects of overscheduling kids fresh in my mind, I am resolute. Kids need unstructured time to figure out and pursue their interests, to develop concentration, to get bored and then unbored. I see this, know this, and feel this for myself. And being a teacher, I have the good fortune to not have to find coverage for my kids. But this summer what has shifted my resolve is thinking of those weeks as purposeful, not just lazy. Not that summer laziness is a bad way to think of it, but I know from watching my kids that the blocks of time where they can be spontaneous, creative, and unstructured have definite impacts on their creativity and their understanding about what it is that they like to do.
So here is what I suggest. Take a look at your summer and try to balance the structured weeks with unstructured ones. If childcare is the issue, get creative. Share a babysitter with a friend for a chunk of time, import a grandparent, or share care with a neighbor. And on those days, allow for big blocks of undefined time with resources abounding for your child, like library books and art supplies. And then tell your kid to get busy, doing nothing much at all.
This post was originally published in May 2011.