SOMWad: Quiz, Quiz, Test, Project
I'm a big believer in letting a kid be a kid. Don't get me wrong; school/learning is important, but so is the opportunity to play outside in the fresh air and sunshine. While I've always been a proponent of reading and keeping up with studies during school breaks, I've also seen the creative mind of my son grow through his Lego inventions, which often incorporate artwork. (Right now he's into making forts and castles and will create his own flags with paper and pen.)
Now that he's hit middle school though, there's less time to be a kid. Afternoons (he usually gets home around 3:30-3:45) are spent at the kitchen table doing homework. When the younger ones from the block come by to ask him to come out to play, more and more often, we’ve had to say no. I realize that with middle school comes more work and the need to study. But sometimes it seems a little out of control. Next week my son has a social studies quiz, a science quiz and a math test. In addition he also has a major social studies project that is due on Friday. Top that off with math homework every evening, French homework every other evening (and trying to review with flash cards every day), required reading every day and practicing the trumpet and you can see there is very little time left for "fun." (Should I even mention every month also brings the need for a current event write up for science and a book summary for literacy class?)
The other night our town had its biannual "family night" which means no homework was assigned and there were no extracurricular activities or town meetings. No homework for that night meant my son had time to work on his French cartoon/project, his science current event and the social studies project. (Not that he hadn't been working on them prior to yesterday, it's just that yesterday he had no immediate homework assignments that had to be completed.) Family night meant that we were able to have dinner together (which we usually do anyway) and do a few things as a "family." (Fun things like getting flu shots.) After my son completed his daily required reading (finishing his book so now he is ready to start the book summary), we all got into our pjs and watched Tuesday night's episode of "The Muppets." There was laughter during the show and giggles afterwards.
There used to be more laughter in our family. I came to realize that last night. We have been sorely lacking in the giggle department lately. There also used to be less stress. (Believe me quizzes, tests and projects not only mean stress on my son, but on our entire family.) I knew this year was going to be a challenging one. I knew it was going to be a change. I knew there was going to be more work. I just didn't know how much. I didn't realize how much of "just being a kid" was going to be lost in the process.
The school year ahead may be full of work, but I am not willing to let my son stop being a kid. Though he may have to work more (even on the weekends), I am going to do my darnedest to make sure that he still has some "kid time."
Even before all of the craziness of school, I had been thinking it was time to plan a week long family vacation this summer. Forget the planning, I'm ready to book it because it is clear to me with all the work that this school year has brought and will bring, we are ALL going to need a family vacation. We will all need to relax and escape the quiz, quiz, test, project mindset. We are going to need time to laugh and goof off. For as important as school is, a complete break is going to be a must for us. Work is a necessity, but so is fun. I may not be able to change the school schedule, but I can and will make sure that we don't lose track of the joy that comes with being a kid and a family.