Summertime Preparations

It’s been hard for me to think about summer vacation when the weather has been so freaking cold and rainy lately, but with the end of the school year looming just six weeks away it’s time to start planning.  Because goodness knows I don’t want to have a repeat of last summer.

Last summer we didn’t know I would be leaving my job and staying home with the kids until 2 weeks before school let out for the year.  We’d talked about having me stay home before, but at the time we couldn’t seem to make the math work out.  We started talking about it again at the beginning of May last year and when we realized that it might actually be possible to do we knew we needed to move quickly so we could un-enroll Brendan from his summer daycare program because once we started we would be stuck paying for the entire summer whether he went or not.

So May 23, Brendan’s last day of school, I began my career as a stay at home mom.  I really had no idea what to expect.  I figured every day would be what the weekends were like before.  The kids would be off entertaining themselves for the majority of the day with me stepping in to intervene when things got a little out of hand.  That worked for a little while (thankfully–since I spent the first two weeks I was off preparing for and then participating in the neighborhood garage sale), but within a few weeks they were bored.  And as the summer wore on they became increasingly hard to keep entertained.

The problem was that I had nothing planned.  Their grandmother paid to put them through a week of summer camp, and that helped stave off the boredom for a little while.  But as July dragged it’s way into August the kids began to count down the days until they could start school.  Both boys were looking forward to it just so they could get out of the house for a little while.

That was the other problem.  Last year the summer was so incredibly hot that my kids would hardly go outside.  Most days the temperature was over 100 degrees, with the heat index spiking somehwere near 115-120.  It was so hot that they didn’t even want to go out and cool off in the swimming pool or the sprinklers.  If they went to play with their friends in the neighborhood they’d all eventually wind up inside one of the houses.

This summer I intend to be much more prepared.  For starters I’m planning to enroll the kids in a few activities.  That should give them something to look forward to each week at least.  The first thing I’m going to enroll them in is swim lessons.  The boys both took swim lessons a couple of winters ago, and they were beginning to progress.

Brendan is probably never going to be a strong swimmer because, like his mother before him, he doesn’t want to put his face in the water which is pretty much the basics to being able to swim.  Cameron could be a pretty good swimmer but at the time we had him in lessons he was 3 almost 4 and still somewhat in the terrible toddler phase.  There were times we were paying for him to sit on the edge of the pool because he refused to get in and swim.  We didn’t have Kaylee in lessons at the time because I’ve never seen the benefit to having a 6 month old take lessons.

We haven’t taken them back because the place they were taking lessons at was really expensive, and we were having trouble finding a class time that fit into our busy schedule.  This time we’re going to try taking lessons through our local high school.  I’ve heard of it before now, but never had the information on when registration was or anything.  It’s a lot less expensive than the other place and I’ve heard good things about the lessons.  We will see if that last part pans out or not.

I’m not sure how young of children they’ll work with but I’m hoping Kaylee can get in to take lessons as well.  I really want to teach her how to swim because she is definately a water baby.  She adores playing in the bath or the pool, she purposely dumps water over her face and giggles like crazy, and she’s really not afraid to try anything.  She’ll already let me “jump” her into the pool and dunk her head under the water for a moment.  If she can’t get in with the highschool we may take her back to where the boys went just so she can learn to swim as well.

Along with swimming both boys have asked to play sports this summer.  Brendan initially asked to play football but I wasn’t having any luck finding a flag football league for his age group anywhere near us.  I told him we will look into it again in the fall when football is more prevalent.  Personally I don’t think he will like football very much, but if he wants to try it so be it.  Cameron has asked to play baseball, and Brendan is interested in trying that as well. I found a league close to home and accomodates both their ages, and registration starts in a few weeks.  That will last for the bulk of the summer.

The last thing we are looking into is another summer camp for Brendan.  One of our local community colleges offers a kids program where kids ages 5-11 can come and take some classes just for fun.  He’s going to take one where they teach all about the brain and will get to dissect an actual sheep’s brain (I thought that might gross him out and turn him off from the class but once he heard they got to cut up a real brain he was twice as interested), he’s also going to take one to learn all about the 50 states, and he’s on a waiting list for a learn to cook class.

His first choice, over the 50 states class, was to take a class learning about volcanoes and fossils.  They’d get to make a volcano out of dough, and set it off at the end of the week with baking soda and vinegar.  Unfortunately the class was full, but I’ve found some instructions online and we will make that a project for home some time this summer.  Which will probably be better anyway because I think Cameron would really enjoy a project like that as well and he wouldn’t have been able to participate in anything like that at camp.

We looked into enrolling Cameron into the same camp as Brendan since they would take 5 year olds but the only class they had for that age basically sounded like a kindergarten prep class, and really when it comes to academics Cameron doesn’t need any more prep time.  They tested his progress back in October and he’d already mastered so many of the concepts that they didn’t bother testing him again in March.  If not for his immaturity he probably could have gone to Kindergarten last year and kept up with the lessons.

Kaylee has been a little tougher to find activities for.  I really want to find a tumbling or dance class to get her into since she’s such a mover and shaker.  But the initial results I’ve found say she has to be at least 3, and she won’t turn 3 until October.  I’ll keep looking, but I’ve resigned myself to the fact that she may have to be bored for one more summer.  And boy is she bored.  She adores Tuesday’s and Thursday’s just so she can have Cameron home with her and have someone to play with.  I don’t know what she’ll do when both boys are in school all day every day next fall.

I’ve talked about it some with Cameron’s pre-school teacher.  She mentioned to me the other day that she thinks Kaylee is definately ready to enter pre-school and that it is an option to start her as soon as she turns 3 even though it will be in the middle of the school year.  Matt and I have talked it over and decided that would probably be a good idea.  If nothing else to give her someone to play with for a few hours a week.

The other reason for getting her into pre-school sooner is to plan ahead.  She is only 2 at the moment, and every parent thinks their kids is the brightest one out there, but we think there is a possibility she’ll be ready to go to Kindergarten sooner than she’s scheduled to.  She’s fluent in both colors and shapes, she has a decent start on letter recognition (I’d say she could easily identify about 10 letters of the alphabet), she understands the concept of counting objects, and recognizes all of the numbers 1-10.

In addition to her academic success her communication skills are very good.  She tends to talk (and occasionally act) more like a teenager than a toddler, and (at least in my opinion) she’s mature for her age.  But, because of where her birthday falls she’s currently slated to enter Kindergarten about 2 months before she turns 6.  Up until this school year if a child turned 5 on or before October 15 they were able to enter Kindergarten that school year.  Kaylee would have made that cutoff by 3 days.  Now the cutoff has been moved to June 15, which she’ll miss.

While talking to Cameron’s pre-school teacher I mentioned some of the concerns we have with waiting so long to put her into Kindergarten and she said if we really want to we can have her tested by the school district to see if she’s really ready to enter the school system early.  Obviously we will wait to cross that bridge until we’re a bit closer, but it’s nice to know we have some options.

It’s weird to think that in a little over 2 years I may have all three of my kids in school full time.  That accomplishment may just call for a celebration.

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