Six Children and No Theories

Covering parenting and child development issues

Back-to-School -- Already?

Written by Lisa Lawmaster Hess, Community Blogger | Aug 5, 2013 1:28 PM

It's August and the trappings of back-to-school are everywhere. The options are endless and confusing, varying widely from child to child and school to school. Those shopping on a budget (and most of us are) are scanning sale ads, trying to figure out who has what for less and for how long. 

It can be overwhelming, this game of what to equip them with. If you're looking for hints, most stores will have suggested shopping lists at the ready, and some schools even post this information on their websites. 

But when it comes to equipping our kids for the school year, there are many important things we can't find in stores. One of them is summer vacation.

It's August, folks. And though all the planning and preparation above is important, it's equally important not to let it drain the joy out of what remains of summer. School year expectations grow greater and more intense with each passing year, and I believe that allowing the pressures of the school year to take a bite out of summer does our kids an injustice. Kids need structure, but they also need down time and if they don't learn how to take it and what to do with it now, they're in danger of becoming adults who  lead lives that are persistently out of balance.

So what's at the top of my recommended back-to-school list? More summer vacation. Go to the pool, the zoo or the art museum. Eat ice cream. Catch fireflies. Draw on the driveway with sidewalk chalk. Watch a movie at IMAX, at the movie theatre or on your living room sofa. Read a classic, a bestseller, or even a comic book. Write a story. Sing and dance. Play a sport. Do whatever it is that embodies relaxation, honors down time and teaches your children that there's more to life than the responsibilities that, of necessity, monopolize our days. 

What's that you say? You still have to work? Well, that puts you in the best position of all. (Yeah, I know it doesn't feel that way.) By finding something fun to do with your kids in your downtime (yes, you can find some somewhere, even if it's not every day) you're showing them that while work is important, it isn't everything. By reading aloud to them at bedtime, or stopping what you're doing to give them your full attention, you're teaching them that they matter. More than a shopping list. More than a to-do list. More than a test score. 

Childhood is short enough. Don't miss any opportunity to prolong it.

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