Summer is never quite what I expect. It used to be relaxed and breezy—a chance to go to the pool everyday and do strange science experiments with the boys. They’ve outgrown the science experiments and our lives have gotten too hectic.
When the boys were younger, not much changed from season to season (including the shift to summer.) We had naptimes to help keep our schedules somewhat rigid. We replaced preschool with an outing to the library or the museum every day. We went to the pool every afternoon. Even with a schedule, summer had a relaxed feeling.
Now we are running all the time, and always in a different direction. Summer feels more hectic than the school year. We couldn’t keep a routine if I wanted to. Every day looks different than the last. It’s easier to schedule doctor’s appointments because I don’t have to squeeze them in the couple of hours available after school but that means that at least one day a week (a different day each week) is interrupted at a different time by some appointment. It’s unpredictable.
My work schedule makes it worse. In the summer I work a week at a time, one week a month. Those weeks everything changes. Yoshi goes to camp and it’s worse than school. We go on two trips, which adds two more weeks that completely throw everything out the window.
In other words: The routine and structure of the school year is not possible during the summer. Yoshi needs that routine and structure.
We’ve started to see it lately. He recently started to have mini-meltdowns over insignificant things—meltdowns that seem to be getting more major. Emotions are getting to be too much for him to handle again. All the progress we had seen is starting to slip.
The summer slide means something different in our house. I’m sure you’ve heard about it: kids don’t retain the material they were taught over the summer and teachers often have to cover last year’s curriculum before moving on. It’s not that Yoshi has forgotten anything (he doesn’t forget anything) he just can’t handle going to school anymore.
As much as he needs the routine, as much as the structure helps him, it really chafes. He struggles to settle back into the swing of school after any break—even a weekend. Mondays have always been the hardest days of the week. We lost several days (if not weeks) of effective learning after winter and spring breaks. Snow days turned out to be awful, I think because they were unexpected.
You can probably imagine that getting into a new school routine after a twelve-week break is… difficult.
The summer slide means something different in our house.
Lots of you are already back in school by now, or at least about to start this week. Around here, we don’t go back until after Labor Day. That means that around this time in the summer I have to start getting Yoshi prepared for the Great Return.
It’s a process. Adjusting to a new teacher, new classmates, new routines is a monumental task. We can’t just go from zero to sixty on this.
I will admit that every year I forget that we have to do this. Summer is still in full swing for us. We still have plenty of appointments scheduled at all times of the day, arrangements made to meet with friends—we’re trying to squeeze out the last bits of summer.
Now we’re trying to do that on a schedule. We’ve posted one on the bulletin board for Yoshi to follow. He can look ahead to see what’s coming. By the end of the week, he should know exactly what to expect as the day goes on. Thankfully, this week is light so for the first week of our new schedule we should be able to stick to it.
I said it’s a process and I meant it. This is where we start. The schedule gives him times and options for activities. Some of the times he gets to pick the activity and sometimes I choose. There are three breaks for free time. I’m not making him sit around and hit the books—yet. This schedule is just a little bit more rigid with his choices. Only a few times during the day does he have to do things that aren’t choosing between “playing with toys” or “playing outside” kinds of options.
By the week before school starts, that will change. We are working towards an actual school day at home. I have to. It sucks for Yoshi that his summer gets cut short, but it’s the only way that he can be prepared to go back to school.
That week is always very hectic. It’s the week that we have to cram in the most. You know how it is: everything that you have to get done with the kids has to get done before it gets complicated (when you’re trying to schedule it after school hours.) I also don’t want to miss out completely on the last bits of pool visits and seeing friends. It’s a hard line to walk.
But it’s back to school time and it’s too stressful to look too far ahead. For now, I’m going to focus on this week and our new routine. He’s back to using a timer for screen time and that’s an adjustment all by itself. Let’s take this one day at a time.
How was your summer? Are you ready for school?
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This is the first post in a series about returning to school.
Third: The Coaches Meeting
Fourth: Game Day