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IT’S ALMOST SUMMER-WHAT NEXT?

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Last Friday, my sister came home from finishing
her first semester of college. And now she has four
months off. That’s four months of sleeping in, hanging
out with her friends, going to the movies, going
to the mall and just pure relaxation. Wow do I miss
the school/college days. * Moment of silence for all
of us who don’t get a four month vacation *. However,
she is not going to spend the entire four months
relaxing and “goofing off.” In fact, she is taking a
Biology class in June and thinking about shadowing
a doctor in the field she wants to go into.
College students get off for summer vacation a
few weeks earlier than those in high-school and
younger. But summer vacation for these students is
right around the corner and it got me thinking—what
are ways to keep children occupied during the long
summer months?
Regardless of whether a student is in high school,
middle school or elementary school, they are bound
to kick-off their summer vacation by relishing in the
idea of such a long break from school and school related
responsibilities. After nine months (give or take)
of homework, tests, projects and activities, they are
probably looking forward to three to four months of
bliss and relaxation. They will start off the summer
enjoying the fact that they can sleep in, hang out with
friends and watch television all day. But then, a month
or so will pass, and they will start to miss school and
miss having loads of school assignments and activities
to keep them busy. Once in a while you may even
hear “I’m bored.”
The way to squash this boredom is going to be different
for each age group, and to make things easier
lets split these age groups into the three I mentioned—
elementary school, middle school and high school.
One of the best ways to prevent summer boredom
in high school students is to encourage them to get
a job. This doesn’t have to be a full-time, five days a
week, eight hours a day job. This can simply be a job
in which they work for a couple of hours every morning
or afternoon. I know a lot of students may not want
to work, but they can think about it this way: if they
work, they’ll make money and they can spend that
money when they hang out with their friends. Having
a job will also give them a sense of responsibility
and accomplishment; traits, I believe, a lot of highschool
students crave. When I was in high-school,
I lived in Belgium, so I wasn’t able to work—due to
their laws regarding expats working (the only person
in my family who could work was my dad). But when
I was earning my Bachelor’s degree at the University
Of Houston, I worked summers at a school supply
store. The job itself was terribly boring, but I felt great
doing it, because I was earning my own money and
didn’t have to ask my parents for cash every time I
wanted to buy clothes at the mall or buy tickets to a
movie. If a high-school student is adamant about not
getting a job, then volunteer work is also a great idea
and opportunity. There are plenty of people out there
who need our help and, similar to having a job, volunteering
will give the student a sense of satisfaction.
Furthermore, volunteering—in some ways—is even
better than working, because you know that you are
truly changing someone’s life. I have done some volunteer
work in the past, but nowhere near the amount
I should do, so I started looking up volunteer events
near me. I found a great website, volunteerhouston.
org/, which provides information on all types of volunteer
opportunities all around the Houston area.
For middle-schoolers, dealing with boredom will
be different. These students are not old enough to
work and, in some cases, may not be old enough to
volunteer. Of course, if they are old enough, I would
suggest that the student goes to these volunteering
locations with a parent. However, in my opinion, the
best way to combat boredom in middle-school students
is to encourage them to take a class, join a club
or go to a summer day or overnight camp. Last summer,
a friend of my sister’s came from England to be
a camp counselor at a Girl Scout camp. The camp
ran from Sunday to Saturday, with a new set of campers
arriving every Sunday, for the entire three-month
summer period. The participants
swam, ate, played games, bonded and
had a great time. Of course, there are
also different day camps, classes and
clubs you could encourage a middle
school student to join and a simple
internet search could give you all the
information you need regarding these
opportunities. When I was in middleschool
I got to take a CPR class, a
class that taught you about babysitting,
and—my favorite—an American
Girl doll class. When I was younger
I was OBSSESSED with the American
Girl series. I read most, if not all,
of the books and I even had my own
Samantha doll (Samantha was one of
the American girls). We got to bring
our dolls to every class, dress them,
have tea parties and participate in different activities.
I also was on the swim team and did a “modeling
and makeup” class—in which we were taught how
to apply make-up, learned what colors best suit our
skin tones, learned about what clothes go well with
each other, learned about ways to walk and carry
ourselves, and—on the last day—put on a fashion
show for our guests, to show off what we had been
taught. Take a minute to picture a 12-year-old me
wearing a full face of makeup, looking like a circus
clown, and strutting from one side of the classroom
to the other acting like I’m Gigi Hadid. My mom took
pictures, which are hidden away in a photo album
that no one will ever look at. Needless to say, I don’t
think I enjoyed the class very much. But I did enjoy
making new friends and having an activity to pass
my time with. But I find it important to mention that I
did enjoy the other classes I joined.
And then there is elementary school. Summers
during my elementary school years were the best.
For young children, working and doing volunteer
work is out of the question. And many of them may
not be ready to join clubs and classes. And, quite
frankly, I don’t think they need to. Young children
have lower attention spans than older children so
their summers should be spent relaxing and participating
in fun activities. I am not saying they shouldn’t
go to classes and clubs, but these need to be tailored
to their age and their attention spans. For example,
when I was in elementary school, my mom and I
would walk down to our local library and participate
in watermelon spitting contests, arts and crafts and
story-time. Speaking of the library, I would also go
once a week to get books to read (I was a massive
bookworm as a child). I also enjoyed going to the trips
to the park with my mom, my sister and my friends.
Summers in elementary school would also consist of
going to my friends’ houses, going swimming at the
local pool and, sometimes, just being at home and
riding my bikes with my neighbor kids.
Along with the aforementioned options, there are a
number of ways to combat boredom in the summer
months. I used to LOVE taking family vacations—
something we did every summer. Whether we went to
Disney World, to visit family in another state or country
or to do sightseeing in a place we had never previously
visited; I enjoyed getting to spend time with my
family and take in the wonders of our world.
So, now you all have some thinking to do. How are
the students in your life going to spend their summer
vacation?
Photo Sources: thriftbooks.com and Wikipedia

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