Hey ho, hey, ho
it's back to school they go...
Yes, it's that time of year -- the youngstas are headed back to school bright and early tomorrow morning. Parents everywhere are breathing a sigh of relief!
Actually, this summer our kids (the 2 remaining who are of school age, entering 10th and 6th grade) have been a breeze. They're old enough to take care of themselves while mom & dad are off to work, and never set the house on fire even once. They take care of their chores (usually), don't fight too much, and even practice their instruments without being nagged about it -- when did they grow up to be so responsible?
Luckily they're not 9-5 latchkey kids -- our schedules are flexible enough that usually one or the other of us got to be home at least some of the time. But it has been great to be able to trust them, not worry about them, and not have to spend a huge chunk of change on daycare or camps. They both are much happier just "hanging out" en famille -- organized camps are not their "cup of tea". Some people thrive on being busy, but our lot (the kids and the 'rents) love having a laid-back summer -- there's plenty "busyness" the rest of the year...
We did not go on any trips Outside (a.k.a. the lower 48 States) this summer, but have done a fair bit of fun stuff around here, including a few great camping trips. Bicycling, hiking, s'mores around the campfire, reading, picking berries -- that's what summer is about! One of the highlights of my summer was them coming to work with me occasionally -- volunteering to help out at the Nature Center.
When they were younger, I was lucky to be able to stay home with them. My job grew in hours and responsibilities as they grew older -- I started first as a volunteer, then very part-time during the peak spring/summer fieldtrip season with summers off. Now I work 3/4-time year-round, and still get to be home when they return from school -- couldn't ask for a more ideal job!
But I do think that in the American school system summer vacation is too long -- 3 months! True, some children (with rich parents) go on amazing trips and specialty camps. But most don't, and they lose out academically too. Students forget a lot over the summer if they're not engaged and challenged (Nintendo & the tube are unfortunately the entertainment of choice, rather than playing outside) -- i just can't imagine how long it takes teachers to catch them up on math, let alone study habits and routines. If I were gone from my job for 3 whole months, my brain would do a major core dump, and I'd have forgotten procedural details and quite a few phone numbers...
I like vacations -- don't get me wrong. Kids need them, and adults too! I think US workers don't get nearly enough vacation from their jobs to take a good break and RELAX, for their health and sanity's sake-- instead many are juggling to find daycare or summer camps for their children who are out for 3 whole months when they themselves have only a few weeks' leave! I see many of those summer camps coming through the Nature Center on fieldtrips, and they vary greatly -- some of the counselors are great, and some so young and inexperienced that they have little clue on how to deal with their charges... I've met some wonderful dedicated people, but I imagine that many a young college student who's doing this for a summer job ends up getting turned away from this field after negative experiences -- I know it sounds cynical! My sincere wish is that our society learn to place a higher value of those working with children: they're our future, and we ought to pay and respect all teachers much MORE!
So here's a "hip, hip, hoorah" to hard-working and dedicated teachers everywhere!