Planning fun activities to keep the kids busy this summer

School has been out for the past 10 days. That means it is time to write my annual “What we are doing this summer” post. The kids are now 10 and 13. As they get older, it gets harder and harder to find things that they want to do. But if left to their own devices, they would…be on their devices or the Xbox all day. So, to give them a break from the electronics and to put an end to the bickering that always seems to crop up lately, I have come up with some things we will be doing this summer.

Water Park/Pool

I love the free option of our neighborhood pool, and we plan to go there a few times a week. I prefer to go in the morning because we often have the place to ourselves, but if we go in the afternoon, we have a better chance of running into classmates or friends. Either way the kids have fun.

We also have a season pass to Six Flags Fiesta Texas. While it is too hot to enjoy the theme park rides during the hot summer days, the water park offers a fun afternoon.

Zoo/Bowling

In addition to the season pass to Six Flags, we also have a membership to the Zoo. As the kids get older, the zoo holds a little less appeal, but we will make it there at least once this summer to see the new dinosaur exhibit. We also have a membership to a local bowling alley that allows us to come every day if we want to bowl up to three games a day. That sound like a little much but a weekly trip is in our plans.

Life Skills

Two summers ago, we went over some “life skills” which included laundry, bank/credit cards, renting vs owning, cooking, and other things to help them survive out on their own. Since, they need the practice, we will continue with having them do laundry and some additional cleaning chores. And Jase has expressed an interest in doing some more cooking lessons.

Violin/Typing/Cursive lessons

During the summer, getting Jase to practice his violin instead of playing video games can be hard but luckily, he still has his weekly tutoring sessions, and Dr. K will certainly expect him to practice between meetings.

Jase also has decided that this summer he wants to learn to touch-type. I have found a few online free programs, so we will be working on their typing skills. And lastly, I want to work on cursive writing, which we tried to work on in a previous summer break. While Lexie likes writing her name in cursive, Jase doesn’t see the point. But neither kid is good at it, and neither one can read cursive so time for more lessons.

While in the past, I have had them do school work in the summer to avoid the Summer Slide, I don’t have any concrete plans this year to have them do school work, but I figure we might get a bit in here and there.

Trips

And in between these activities, we do have two trips planned. The first is a short three-day trip to Bastrop, Texas. This is a work trip for my husband as he attends the annual city attorney’s conference. While he hears lectures, the kids and I go to the water park, ride bikes and enjoy the other amenities the resort has to offer.

And then in August we have a family Alaskan cruise planned. This trip will be more than just our family of four. My parents and brother are also coming on the trip. We have some fun excursions planned, plus the kids are just excited to be going to Alaska. I will be sure to post more about this as it gets closer.

Overall, I think I will have enough option available to keep the kids busy rather than bored…or more importantly off their electronics for some of the summer.

 

Cursive handwriting will NOT be a dying art in this family

This image is so true! Today, many schools don’t teach cursive writing or spend so little time on it that kids don’t become proficient in it. Cursive writing is after all not required by the national education Common Core Standards.

Even in Texas which currently requires cursive writing be taught in elementary school, my kids still don’t know it. Yes, they did spend a month or so working on it in third grade, but since it isn’t consistently required to be used in the higher grades, it isn’t retained.

Jase just finished fifth grade and couldn’t read what his Nana wrote on his birthday card because it was written in that secret cursive writing. And of course both kids sign their name by printing it.

I am sure there are many out there that don’t think cursive writing is important. With the advancement of electronics in the schools and workplace, those people don’t see the benefit of cursive writing. Even my husband seems to prefer that Jase learn different word-processing software and email programs rather than work on his atrocious print handwriting, let along work on cursive.

Of course, I am one of those who thinks our children should be learning cursive writing. I want my kids to be able to sign their name – even if it is just for signing on those horrible electronic screens at the grocery store. And if they want to read family letters or historical documents, they will need to know cursive.

But there are even more important reasons. Research has shown that people who learn and write in cursive are better at expressing their ideas. It has been linked to better reading, increased brain activation and increased performance in all academic subjects, especially in language activities such as spelling.

And it will certainly help them as they advance in school when taking notes in class becomes important as you can take notes faster in cursive.

My mother (a former school teacher) has already sat down with the kids once this summer and worked on them signing their names. But now that we are back from vacation, I think we will continue working on not only their signature but the rest of the alphabet. I hope to have them reading and writing in cursive before school starts at the end of August. Of course then the trick will be to make sure they keep using it so that they retain that knowledge.

For those of you who want to teach your own kids, check out this website for cursive worksheets to practice individual letters, words and sentences. You can find short educational lessons written in cursive for reading and writing practice at this website. Good luck!