Remember when I was all excited because we were going to ditch the whole “summer camp” idea and have “reading camp” instead?
Not so much.
You see, we live at the pool now. We have spent our summer either on our way to the pool, at the pool, on our way home from the pool, or just getting back from the pool. While this may not seem like a process that needs to take up entire days, let me explain.
It goes like this:
- “Okay, kids, we are going to the pool in 30 minutes. That means you need to start getting ready. Get something to eat, use the bathroom, find your bathing suit, towel, and goggles, and put on sunscreen.”
- The children do none of those things for 29 minutes.
- “KIDS, we are leaving for the pool in ONE minute. Get your things.”
- The children scream, scramble, and scratch trying to accomplish 30 minutes worth of tasks in one minute.
- As we walk out the door, “Does everyone have their towel, water, goggles, and shoes?”
- Crickets from the children.
- Arrive at said pool.
- Find a place to put everything they were supposed to carry themselves, but didn’t, down.
- Look up and catch your breath because…
- “MOM, where are my goggles?” “mom, can I swim now?” “MOM, you said you would get my water.” “MOM, can I swim now?” “MOM, where are my floaties?” “MOM, CAN I swim now?” “MOM, I have to go to the bathroom, RIGHT NOW.” “MOM, CAN I SWIM NOW?”
- Welcome to the pool.
You may be at the pool now, but don’t relax yet, and whatever you do, don’t even think about taking out that book you brought with you because:
- The moment children’s feet (bellies, heads, hands or butts, depending on their preferred method of entering the pool) touch pool water, their hunger spikes to previously unforeseen levels.
- You will spend the next how ever many hours you are there feeding them every 30 seconds.
- You will spend the remaining times trying to explain why you are not swimming right now, or if you are swimming, why you cannot play “shark” again right now.
- Should you dare to think that, because the fantastic swimming lessons teachers have accomplished the impossible and taught all your children to swim, you have a moment to open that book that keeps drawing your body closer and closer to the one table you were finally able to find in the shade, the urgent need for all things bathroom, food, and goggle-fixing related will present themselves in drips and splashes all over that beautiful paper you naively choose to expose.
- At some point, you will have to tell them they will have to leave the pool.
- All manner of evasion tactics are used at this point. The infamous go-underwater-everytime-your-parent-starts-talking move. The go-to-the-middle-of-the-pool move. The what-I-can’t-hear-you-it’s-too-crowded move. The move-closer-to-the-one-mom-my-mom-wants-to-impress-so-she-won’t-yell-at-me move.
- Somehow, when you are finally able to get the children out of the pool, the onset of exhaustion, starvation, and dehydration are immediate.
- Now is a good time to let go of the notion that you will take home everything you came with. You are just doing the best you can.
- You will now begin the 100 ft. trek to exit the pool. A trek that you should expect to take you 58 minutes.
- Good bye, pool.
Now back home:
- Should you happen to be driving home, make sure you do not have even the hint of air conditioning on because, despite the fact that you are feeling all 102 degrees of hotness in the air, they, most assuredly, are not.
- Also, just accept the fact that your car will now have a permanent chlorine/salt/mildew smell.
- Should you have the misfortune of having to remind your children that you walked to the pool today, good luck to you. Life can throw some pretty tough punches and this one is just not fair. I highly recommend bribery at this point.
- Should you have somehow forgotten that you all rode your bikes to the pool today, well, there is a special place in heaven for people who survive what you are about to experience. All those towels that somehow fit into your backpack on the way to the pool are definitely not fitting back in. And even though you carried full water bottles and bags of snacks to the pool and all that weight is now gone, nothing on God’s green earth weighs more than the wet towels strewn about your body. In addition, those once energetic, excited children’s legs that pedaled to the pool are now completely useless for repetitive circular motion. They can pedal approximately 2.5 consecutive rotations.
- Now you finally have everyone on their bikes, with helmets, actually following you, only to have one child’s bike get a flat tire and later, another child’s bike chain fall off. Thankfully, this day you had to ride your husband’s torture rack of a bike. So, that big bar across the top of the bike, which you have repeatedly forgotten about and crashed into, can now hold the owner of the flat tired bike. Meanwhile, you put into practice all the bike mechanic skills you never learned and fix the broken chain.
- I should remind you, at this point, you still have not actually left the pool parking lot yet.
- Once you finally arrive home, guess what, you need to feed them, again. And while they are eating, you gently remind them that, not only do they have to take a shower, but they also have to wash their hair. Then watch the scream, scramble, and scratch routine repeat itself.
With the days repeating themselves this way, our reading goals have stalled. My hopes of working on solidifying math facts and sight words, doing daily writing prompts, and getting through my own summer reading list have evaporated. While there has been a kind of maintainance, I can’t claim that much progress has been made.
Here are a few things that have kept our “summer slide” more like one of those bumpy baby slides that levels out every inch keeping your “slide” incremental and less like a water slide that flies you down so fast your “slide” has ended before you had time to get your mind around the fact that you started to slide.
- Writing Prompt Books: In years past, I have used a version of Writer’s Workshop for the kids’ summer writing projects. Additionally, they have summer research projects that give them a chance to put into writing what they have learned. This summer, I have not had the mental space to create my own writing prompts and one book has come to the rescue. My favorite is the brand new, Adventures with Zap: 107 Creative Prompts for Beginning Writers by Diane Landy. I love the creativity this book brings out in the kids.
- Audiobooks: I have often been hesitant to let the kids embrace the audiobook trend. I want them reading the words themselves. But then I realized that if I read out loud to the kids with no issue, I can’t have an issue with someone else reading out loud to them. After the days described above, I fall asleep in the middle of reading to them. Audiobooks have been the perfect solution. I still read to them, but now I don’t have to read through the entire bookshelf.
- Reading Challenge Charts: This summer, the timed reading charts have been a bit discouraging because none of us have as much time to read as we would like. I have found the reading charts to be much more inspiring. Brightly.com has one that has been fun. My oldest daughter’s charter school has one we have enjoyed as well. Pinterest is your friend with these.
- Board Games: Board games are the perfect way to sneak in those math and reading skills without them even realizing it. Some of our family favorites are Ticket to Ride, Settlers of Catan, Race to the Treasure, Clue, Doodle Dice, and Monopoly. I have recently been hearing about a game I really want to try with the kids called Quiddler. There is also this brilliant Sight Words Battleship game.
- Informal Math and Reading “Drills”: Cooking with the kids, or having them read the signs on the road, or the menu, or the map, or the directions for a game, or counting stop lights, or adding and subtracting snacks; all these things keep their minds using their reading and math knowledge. Additionally, there are puzzles and projects that have kids using their reading and math skills without formal drilling. Education.com is an excellent place to find resources for this. Recently, they created a crossword puzzle and answer sheet for the blog that helps kids learn about onomatopoeias and figurative language. If you are looking for more resources using figurative language, you can find them here.
Right, well, that was a long-winded way of recommending 5 ideas that you probably already knew about. I don’t know what you have going on for the rest of the day, but I am about to head to the pool.
“Okay, kids, we are going to the pool in 30 minutes. That means you need to start getting ready. Get something to eat, use the bathroom, find your bathing suit, towel, and goggles, and put on sunscreen.”…