Parents and kids welcome summer, await school

by Richard S. Winer, M.D. | Parents, Students

Many parents look forward to the day when the school year is over, they can spend more time with their children and the challenges revolving around school take a respite for two to three months.  Or, so it seems.

It is tough getting up, and it is even tougher getting a child up and ready to take to school. But the structure of the school day would typically keep the kids on task and, barring some unforeseen circumstances, keep them out of contact for several hours. For many parents, the real fun only begins when the kids come home from school.

Many children do everything they can to keep things under control during the day, but they let it all out when they get home.  Sure, there might be some play time or down time.  Eventually those kids are going to have to find their way to the homework assignments that will take up precious evening time. Then the battle is on to get them settled down enough to go to sleep for the evening.  By the end of this scenario, many parents are worn out from the combination of work and home stresses virtually on a daily basis.

With summer, there’s a break for everyone–at least temporarily. But it’s amazing how quickly children and adults alike begin the countdown to the start of the next school year.  There is less structure throughout the day.  The children miss the peers they saw every weekday for nine months and can’t wait to see them again. Parents wonder what in the world they can do to keep the kids entertained for what may seem to some like an eternity. Everyone can get on each other’s nerves, and the anxiety level runs high.  Throw in some hot weather and there isn’t a summer camp, swimming pool, or baseball field that can keep the kids occupied and happy for any prolonged time.

The ancient philosophers who wrote about doing “everything in moderation” were definitely onto something, and it holds true as we try to make it through the summer months.  The kids do need some time to be away from the rigors of the daily school routine. Yet, at the same time, they need to keep some of their skills sharp by reading books or doing some math problems every now and then.

Children should be encouraged to spend some time at home, but it can’t hurt to plan some activities outside the home.  A family trip, a field trip to tour some interesting place in your hometown, or just a trip to the ice cream shop for a treat at the end of a long, hot day are among the many possibilities to keep everyone going.

I have often said that kids aren’t all vanilla when it comes to learning, or for that matter anything else. Like the ice cream you might find at Baskin Robbins or anyplace else,  they come in at least 31 flavors. We do our kids and ourselves a big favor taking the heat off a long summer by doing a variety of activities that are interesting and fun.

Don’t worry. The summer will still go by fast enough.

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