Reading, Writing and Arithmetic Camps? by Margaret Hart
The end of the school year is fast approaching. The last of the book fairs, plant sales, art shows, school musicals and report cards are upon us, and soon it will officially be summer vacation. Yeah!
The kids in my son’s first grade class know exactly how many days of school are left, and are joyfully counting down because many will be off to camp, family vacations, and relishing in no homework! Most parents I know have mixed feelings: some complain there are too many holidays and breaks, and they wish the school year was longer; others are looking forward to sending kids off to camp, and some are stressing out wondering how they are going to keep their kids occupied all summer with no set schedule.
Me? I’m a little bit all-of-the-above, but for the moment, I’m glad that the teacher’s at my son’s school are still teaching. I have heard other moms complain that after spring break, it’s all fun and games and the kids really don’t learn anything. Thankfully, that’s not the case for my son. He comes home with a book report every week, daily reading and math, and is still learning new vocabulary words. His school recently launched online e-books, and just announced a math contest. Not to brag, but I think my son’s school is awesome. And his teacher is great, too.
I’m happy that he is still excited about learning, and a little sad because he’s had a great year, and it’s coming to a close. I feel this way every time one chapter in his life ends and a new one begins. Is that a mom thing?
So bring on the summer! I’m in camp and vacation mode. And their are so many choices. One summer camp trend that I’ve noticed in recent years, are day camps that offer classroom-style academics with a variety of subjects according to grade and age. If I wanted to, I could sign him up for five days a week of continued reading, writing, and arithmetic. But who really goes to these camps? Do the kids really ask their parents to send them?
Given the choice between four or five hours of daily academics versus flying down a zip line, playing tag, calling “Marco Polo” in the swimming pool or making sand castles at the beach—followed by ice cream cones, of course—which option do you think my child will choose? Kind of a no brainer.
Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s great these academic camps are available. I believe in choice and opportunity, and I’m all for learning. But I’m also a little old fashioned, and from the school of thought that says “kids need to have time to just be kids!’ Their brains need time to absorb what they’ve learned throughout the school year. And with all the sunshine and blue skies the summer brings, maybe their growing, curious brains will test out a few theories.
So in addition to non-academic day camp, we’re signing up for “Cloud Watching 101,” and “Advanced Bug Catching.” Followed by lots of day dreaming.