By Zerline Hughes
Finals were last week for my son and daughter. Finals? Middle School? ‘Woah,’ is all I have to say. And in 10 days, I will attend my son’s middle school step up ceremony and say goodbye to all things innocent. He’s headed to the big leagues, now. I still can’t believe that my Baby Jobe (what we so lovingly referred to him as for his first year or two) now has a man’s voice, about two hairs under his chin and scuffles around in a size 13-14 shoe. Where did the time go?
Alas, with finals, graduation and the completion of yet another school year, that means it’s out-of-school time (OST) – the point of figuring out how to put our kids’ two to three months of summer break to good use while keeping them safe and their minds busy. OST, the abbreviation used in the education and juvenile justice field specifically pertains to after school or summer“programs that support children and youth—especially those in high-poverty urban and rural areas—by providing safe, positive environments that engage and inspire them, help them explore careers, and enhance their work in school.”
You’ve heard it from me before, I keep them busy – not necessarily to keep them off the streets; I have to beg them to go outside in the yard and across the street at the park. I keep them busy so they can continue to have new experiences. You know: travel, nature, hands-on activities, social interaction. I also don’t want them home eating everything in sight, making me take two trips a week to the grocery store.
So, the spreadsheet is just about done. Yes, spreadsheet! Like clockwork, I started in January, got serious in February and by March it started filling in with dates, camps, potential opportunities. And so here we are: a week-long Great Books camp in Massachusetts for the boy, a two-week long Girl Scouts overnight camp for the girl, the District’s Summer Youth Employment Program for the boy (yes, he’ll be working!), a faith-based camp for the girl, summer school enrichment for her as well, and hopefully a solo plane trip for the two to visit with family.
I’m also hoping to take advantage of our new walking and biking trail and our recreation center and pool which opens any day now.
I love when the school year comes to a close. No more 6 a.m. mornings or homework-filled nights. No more school meetings, ceremonies or sports to calendar and rush to. But their summer schedule isn’t necessarily a walk in the park. Though we do have some days where we can sleep in or be spontaneous, there won’t be too much of that. We’ll still be working our minds and commuting across state lines, but in order to fulfill my mission of raising well-traveled, experienced, happy children, this is what it takes. I hope it’s working.
As the school year comes to close, let’s make sure the learning doesn’t. Ensure your kids’ out of school time is productive, energetic and one for the memory books.