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Entries in Summer (3)

Wednesday
Jun132012

School's Out for Summer!

It’s the time of year in New England where schools are closing and the kids are coming home for the summer.

 

In my view, it’s one of the best times with children.  It’s all about a relaxed schedule:

  • While homework is important, and a major part of a child’s education, getting homework completed can be challenging.  Some kids just won’t to homework, creating mini-Chernobyl discussions around the house.  At other times, the sheer volume of homework is excessive.  Most of the time the homework load is reasonable, an hour or two a day.  Toss in a couple projects, and homework time can swell.
  • Getting kids out the door in the morning often takes on a different pace.  While there are often commitments, it always seems a little less frantic than during the school year.
  • Spending time with kids  In the summer, the homework time can be replaced with parent time.  Playing catch in the yard, watching baseball on TV or in person, making BBQ together (especially corn on the cob)…it’s all special times.
  • Bed time – bed times are often pushed out, giving more family time
  • Home projects – home projects can be fun with the assistance of children.  Not massive projects, just little ones.  Like planting a section of flowers, or re-decking a deck.  I never found a deck painting/staining effort an older child couldn’t help with (with supervision.)  It helps the child learn a sense of responsibility and share an accomplishment.

 

All in all, summer with children can be fabulous.  Enjoy!!

What do you do with children in the summer you find special?

Wednesday
Jun062012

Should Children Work?

I’ve had a job since I was twelve.  My first job was “odd jobs” (mowing, trash duty, painting) at a motel.  My next job was maintaining clay tennis courts…requiring  weed control, regular rolling, sweeping, and line painting.  All through high school I worked in a marina doing everything…painting boat bottoms, pumping gas, engine tune-ups, bailing, cleaning (boats and bathrooms/showers), steam cleaning boat bottoms, winterizing and boat shows (selling boats.)  Honestly, this may have been my best job ever, but I digress.

My jobs were so I could have money.  Mom and Dad provided everything else.  In hindsight, I was very fortunate.

Should kids work?  My simple view is they should work (and to be clear up front, I am NOT talking about exploiting children or violating child labor laws.)

Why should they work?

It helps prepare them for their future.

When a child works, they are learning responsibility (showing up for a job means getting out of bed which means getting into bed the night before.)  They are often get exposed to the very basics of a small business (handling cash, inventory control, how to “present” something in a retail environment.

My sense is the child labor laws have gone so far it is hard for small businesses’ to hire a child.  In Massachusetts, having a knife in a kitchen raises the minimum age of the employee.

That said, my son got his first job working in agriculture.  It’s not what he wanted to do for his life, but the florist shop growing a lot of their plants would hire him.  He would weed fields (and ironically rarely helped weed flower beds at home.)  My daughter got hired by Target as a cashier, and worked her way into store Human Resources…a career field she continues in to this say.  For a season, one scooped ice cream.  Another helped in lawn care….never touching chemicals and helping with blowing off driveways, moving bags of grass seed, etc.  Note: local businesses are a great source for summer jobs…and as Dad I appreciate each of these businesses to this day.

Each one learned responsibility, and neither seemed worse for the wear.  They balanced the priorities of school, sports, and working.  And they learned the value of a dollar.

How about your kids?  Do they work or not?  If not, what do they do?

Wednesday
May302012

It’s SUMMER – (what are we doing with the kids while we work?)

Long days, cookouts, no school….it’s one of the best times of year.

And it often throws parents into a child care dilemma.  For purposes of this post, I am talking non-teen, school aged children.  Pre-school children often continue their same childcare arrangements, and teens often don’t get up until noon.

This post is about the group where their school day & after school programs normally fill the day, and they are now at home…home with both parents working.

We were never in a financial position to “send the kids to camp for the summer.”  Even if we were, I would not have done this.  Parents sending their kids away each summer miss some great experiences.

We found filling the summer a key challenge, and one worth planning.  We did not want the kids sitting at home in front of the “one eyed babysitter,” (TV.)  We believed in Idle Hands, Idle Minds….   It wasn’t a highfalutin perspective…we felt our kids would inevitably get in trouble if they were not busy.

So we would plan each summer out well in advance, including planning family vacations around activities.

We found the “Y” had great summer programs, offering light classes in a variety of areas.  The same was true with the local recreation department “rec department.”  Some day cares catered to this group so they could maintain a revenue stream over the summer. By looking at these programs, large chunks of time could be affordably scheduled.

Then the challenge was how to “shuttle” the kids around for these activities.  We found other parents were often the best resource…and was always our preference.

Possibly the most flexible approach was to find a responsible teenager with a car.  This option was always a dual edged one.  We always worried about teen drivers, and especially distracted teen drivers (phone, etc.)  This is one where we had to know their parents, and have a sense of the teen’s rowdiness.  Party people need not apply.  And we always told our kids to make sure they had seat belts on.

How do you keep your pre-teen occupied over the summer?