Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sometimes it's just nice to be...

There is a lot of critique these days regarding the over scheduling of childhood. While as a family as a whole we do participate in a lot of activities, we also make every attempt to prioritize downtime with friends (lots of sleep overs!), downtime with family, and simply time alone (sometimes this is easier said than done). Truth be told though, we are on the go a lot!

This is why I am truly enjoying the summer break from most of our organized activities. Sure we still meet with friends to go swimming once a week and another day is spent at the park. There are camps and vacations and a rather surprising number of birthday parties... But as I work on putting together our fall schedule I realize how much we are *not* doing. This is leaving long days to think and talk and read. The oldest three are truly enjoying the world of literature these days with the oldest two swapping novel suggestions on a regular basis. We've had some great discussions about all sorts of topics, often kicked off by the ever present NPR or a little periodical we've been reading called The Week. But as the back-to-school sales begin to pop up (our favorite time of year! Cheap supplies and it means the museums will not longer be packed full) we are looking toward our fall schedule.

I am making every effort to combine the days that we are out so that we can have full days at home. We find it easier to get into in-depth projects at home when we have entire days to devote to them instead of having to stop half-way through to rush off to something or try to begin after coming home from an already full day.

So this is what I have so far....

  • The first and third Monday morning with be 4-H
  • Hopefully the second Monday morning will be our Non-violent Communication Study group
  • Monday afternoon/ evening will be the performing arts coop for the middle three (this is a new addition to the schedule, after leaving separate gymnastics/ ballet classes last year.)
  • Monday evening the oldest will attend class at the local community college.
Tuesday home

  • Wednesdays are reserved for our coop class days which have generally been running from 10-4. I'm not sure what the offerings are this year, but in the past have included
  • Spanish
  • Mythology
  • Art
  • Drama
  • Odyssey of the Mind
  • Photography
  • Stop Motion Animation
  • Various types of science
  • Math Games
  • Banned Book Club
Thursdays home (at least after we stop meeting for park day)

  • Trying to decide if we will continue our First Lego League participation. Great group, but not sure if it is the right fit for us at this point. However, the second half of the year which is more of an open ended math/science club was absolutely wonderful so we may work through the kinks to get to that point. This runs from 9-3, but we cut out early for...
  • Cool Kids Care. This is a group of pre-teens and teens that get together weekly for volunteer activities, team building, field trips, etc. The oldest three have been actively participating, so older "tags" sometime come along as well.
  • If we are able, the older two want to get back into their Parkour class for the fall.

Of course many of these activities have outside preparation, otherwise known as "homework". We'll need to figure out when we'll get up to see the math coach (unfortunately she's a bit of a drive). The older two are interested in doing more foreign language work, both preferring to work independently at home rather than with a group or tutor. And the oldest boy is interested in learning middle English in order to better understand Shakespeare (this is a new request, so we are just beginning to figure out how one would go about doing this -- seems to be this would be more a study of linguistics, but I'm open to suggestions!). Middle daughter has decided she wants to give spelling bees a shot and being the ultimate spelling-phobe this is also a new area for me.

And then we simply want to leave time for those experiences that may just fall in our laps. The random field trip or interest that is as yet unpredicted. The friendship or hobby that needs to be nurtured. But at least we know nothing is set in stone and it is up to us to be constantly aware if these are truly the choices we want to be making.

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