What to do with your children when school is out

It never fails.

This is the time of year posts all over the internet start popping up on forums, blogs and websites. Offline conversations start having a dominant theme. They usually go something like "AAAAHHHH!!! It's summertime and school is out!!!! What should I do with my kids???" There are also parents who openly complain that they don't want to be subjected to their children all summer and count the days until school is back in session - but we'll leave them alone for right now.

My question is, do parents of schooled children really depend that much on school that they have to wrack their brain trying to figure out how to "keep their kids entertained"? Does school intergrate itself so deeply in their lives that they don't know how to spend quality time with their children without it?

Here's where parents of schooled children could learn something from parents of unschooled children. And if you're reading this as a parent of a schooled child, please don't take this as an attack. take it for what it is - an observation, and some suggestions on how to change your perspective of your children.

Instead of looking for things to fill their time with, fill that time with you.

Hang out with your kids.
Get to know them.
Spend time with them, doing what they love to do.
Get involved with something they're passionate about.

When you stop depending on the school system for social activity, creative play and exploration the whole world will open up for you, and your children.

Explore your neighborhood but look at it through different eyes. Take a a magnifying glass, a camera and a notebook. If your neighborhood is not that interesting, try another one.

Go to a place different that what you usually go to;
a different library
a different grocery store
a different way home
a different playground

Learn something new together. Try karate, cooking, fencing, pottery.

Invite your children into your world and your interests instead of looking for other people and other activites to occupy them.

Children grow up so fast and it's their time with you that they'll remember the most. Use the summer months to get in touch with your kids. Get into their world and their lives. Use this as an opportunity to be involved more.

Who knows? You may enjoy yourself so much you won't want them to go back to school. ;-)


Mel said...

An interesting thought and certainly true for some of us.
For me, I think the problem lies in that many schools and parents lives aren't integrated enough. The kids are educated over there and come home here and nothing is really linked. Parents feel left out and cut off, although there are plenty of ways to be involved most feel they shouldn't- which is a shame.
So when school lets out they have a void to fill rather than finally a chance to all the things we've been looking to do all year like x, etc

Although aims like 'hang out with your kids' and 'get to know them' are exactly what we should be doing for most parents they want to know how to do that for longer than 2 minutes.

It's great to have people and sites like you who can do this no problem. Next you need to share more on -How for those who wish they could but don't know how.

Naturally, I have joined the bandwagon and have some summer fun activities over at my blog.

Thanks I enjoyed your post!

kim said...

I think a big part of the problem is that most parents work full time and can't take off the summer with their kids either. I know a mom with 4 kids and both parents use all of their vacation time taking off in the summer to be with the kids, but that still leaves about 4 or 5 weeks the kids are in day camps which ends up costing them thousands of dollars.

When she did the math, they'll spend a few semesters of college tuition just on day camps so that their children don;t have to be home alone in the summer. Not sure what the solution is but I can see why they'd dread the big routine changes and I can understand why they can't afford a vacation as a family too.

I feel lucky that for us the summer is such a respite from the routines of the year.

Joanne said...

***you need to share more on -How for those who wish they could but don't know how.***

Here how I think...if they 'wished they could", it would be important to them to find out "how".

***I think a big part of the problem is that most parents work full time and can't take off the summer with their kids either.***

Maybe for some, but we're a family of five, plus two pets on ONE salary. To me, it's about priority.

Thank you both for your comments. :-)

Dana said...

Not unschoolers, but I couldn't agree more!

I think part of the problem is having your routine disturbed.

Anonymous said...

I hate hearing things like that also.

forgetfulmuse said...

A friend of mine, when I was talking about home schooling, said she would "DIE without school". (Yes, she used caps).

Joanne said...

Wow. That's pretty sad.

Jo-Ann said...

I am a longtime lurker to your blog. This post has been haunting me since I read it. We have a few things in common. I was in a punk band with husband and spent alot of time in loud clubs even played at some mentioned in your blog, we also have the same name. I love your blog, your honesty and courage to adopt older children then to unschool them. I am a big fan

We have 2 boys - 3 1/2 and 2. I couldn't agree more about your post. I worked full time when my youngest was a baby till 2 1/2. He was unhappy at daycare and I finally decided that working part time at night would serve us better and we'd make more money. At the urging of family my oldest went to preschool this year. He went to a cooperative preschool where the only paid employees are the teachers and there is a parent in the class everyday. He attended 3 days a week from 9 to noon. It was good. The staff was supportive and loving. Having a small class and so much parental involvement was a wonderful thing.

Having said that I am so excited to have both boys home with me all summer. We joined a pool. There is swimming lessons, library summer reading program, museums, hiking, the playground and so much more. We are so fortunate to live near the biggest green space within a city limit. We visited a Kelpius Hermit cave from 1700's this week and picked flowers in the woods and looked up what they were on the internet. I have the most joy in my heart when spending time learning with my kids.
I wish I had the guts to unschool.

Kudos to you and sorry for the long long comment.

I can be found at http://whereamigoing.typepad.com/punky_mama/


Joanne said...

Jo-Ann...First, thank you so much for your nice words. I really appreciate them and they made me smile when I read them. :-)

You sound like such a great mom!! I love what you said here:
***I have the most joy in my heart when spending time learning with my kids.***

That is so UNSCHOOLING!!!!!

I'm gonna come and check out your blog later!

Thanks again!