“Mom, which way does the number ‘9’ go? I haven’t written it in so long that I forgot.” These words from my emerging 3rd grader made me realize that I actually allowed it to happen. The Summer Slide.
My kids are definitely experiencing it. They’ve forgotten facts and formulas; they’ve let their grammar and handwriting skills slip; they’ve become slower at reading and worse at spelling; and they’ve definitely eased right out of a daily routine and schedule.
The educator in me is pretty disappointed, mostly in myself. Today, two days before school starts, I could be drilling them on multiplication facts. I could be forcing hour-long reading sessions. I could be sitting them down in front of workbooks. But I’m not… because the mom side of me isn’t worried at all.
At this exact moment, my two oldest children are playing in the backyard at dusk with their 2-year-old sister, sliding quickly and landing hard on their bums, jumping high and perfecting somersaults on the trampoline, swinging to their hearts’ content, and passing partially deflated beach balls to each other. No one is stressed out by homework or gone at baseball practice, and they are actually getting along. My children are happily playing and enjoying their family time, begging me to join in. This is summer as it should be, and although the teacher side of me is feeling pretty guilty, the mom side of me is feeling pretty proud. I know these kids are going to be just fine.
I know they are learning so much from free play and creative afternoons and traveling near and far. I know their social skills are improving with long summer playdates and eventful days away at church camp. I know that their problem-solving skills are rapidly developing each time I ban electronics or refuse to intervene when they have sibling spats. I also know that when they return to school, they will soon become re-acclimated to routines and schedules, and their brains will be totally ready to absorb new skills and facts, while recalling the old.
As long as my children are still technically children, my wish is that when they hear the words, “summer slide”, they continue to think it’s the big 22-foot inflatable waterslide they cruised down about 99 times yesterday, joyfully shrieking and doing tricks with some of their closest friends. It was one of the most fun days they’ve had all month, and I watched them learn so much on that summer slide.
We’ve still been checking off our summer bucket list but at a much slower pace these days. Staying home to watch movies, do scavenger hunts, and finish the big kids’ hang out space became much more appealing as the temperatures rose and our energy levels waned.
Highlights: aquarium, “dead zoo”, shooting games, cool products to try out, A/C, cafe
– Bring quarters for the shooting game.
– The second level with several tents is a lot of fun for kids to pretend like they’re camping.
– It might be a good idea to have an item in mind that you need to buy, such as bait for an upcoming fishing trip. (It’s a little awkward to spend a lot of time in a store and not buy anything.)
– Check out the website ahead of time for classes, demonstrations, and additional entertainment.
Highlights: different pool features at different Y locations, child watch for children up to age 12, free drop-in camps at some locations, playgrounds and open gym time
– Check website for individual locations’ pool and child watch hours.
– If you’re not a member, you can join a friend as a guest up to three times. Otherwise, consider getting just a summer membership. At the beginning of the summer, the Y often waives the registration fee.