The Summer Scramble
May 15th, 2013, posted by Aimee
Balmy nights, strawberries in season, strappy sandals, salt-rimmed margaritas and poolside playdates … what’s not to like about summer? Well, if you’re a working mom, there’s one worrisome wrinkle in what is otherwise the most glorious time of year – school’s out and you’re left scrambling to find both childcare and somewhat intellectually stimulating or at least physically challenging activities for your kids.
As if it weren’t stressful enough simply supervised activities to occupy those precious daytime hours formerly filled by teachers and recess, there’s also anxiety around the dreaded “summer slide,” i.e., all the brain cells junior is going to lose while vegging out in front of a TV or on the trampoline between June and August. According to the National Summer Learning Association, students who do not participate in enrichment and learning activities during the break can lose roughly 22 percent of the knowledge and skills they gained during the previous school year. Damn. Talk about pressure.
Thus begins the mad dash to line up and map out as many week by week camps, tutoring and team sports as you can afford to fill up those 8-10 weeks before the new school year begins. The choices seem endless and overwhelming … science camp? Basketball camp? How about Lacrosse? What about swim team? What’s the deadline for soccer? What about that children’s theater? How about art or music lessons? And, oh yeah, where or who will pick them up since most of these camps let out by noon or 3 p.m. without any option of aftercare. Figuring out the puzzle and stitching together a roadmap of activities without spending thousands of dollars is enough to blow any Womo’s mind.
University of Phoenix College of Education Assistant Dean Dr. Ashley Norris recently reached out to offer me some advice on how even a busy working mom can squeeze in some learning during the summer months in between the camps and sporting activities. Here are some of her tips:
• Look for learning opportunities in your own backyard. Open the morning newspaper and choose an adventure for the day. See what is happening in your community and find learning opportunities in your own backyard, e.g.:
o Visit the farmer’s market to learn about vegetables. Take pictures and continue your research online or at the library. Then have your child create a presentation about what he/she learned.
o Attend concerts in the park or other community music events. Inspire children to research and explore different types of music or the history of a specific instrument.
• Turn everyday activities into learning opportunities. Children need to engage in writing, reading, and math with a purpose – they need to understand the real world applications of their studies. Kids can assist parents with making grocery lists, counting money, determining restaurant tips and measuring for recipes or calculating sale prices.
• Embrace technology and create interactive projects and activities.
o Involve children in digital storytelling, using computer-based tools (video, photos, and text). For instance, your children can use family photos and videos to tell a story about summer activities.
o The perfect summer project for a child of any age is to research something that is of interest to them. For instance, a child can get creative taking photos, then research the topic online and build an interactive presentation. The added benefit is this can become a brag book for mom or dad or grandma.
o Involve children in local geo-caching (high-tech treasure hunting) activities.
What about you? Do you worry about summer “slide,” and what are your tips for preventing that while balancing everything else as a working mom? Tell me what you think.