Summer is here…now to keep the kids busy

The kids had their last day of school on June 2. Now we have the whole summer ahead of us.

What to do to keep them busy rather than fighting with each other? I have some ideas…

Swim Lessons

Last summer, the kids took an 8-day swim class put on by Swim America. They really enjoyed it and asked to do that again this summer. From Monday to Thursday for the last two weeks in June, we will be at the pool each morning for swim lessons. Maybe this year, Lexie will get to level 4 – the level needed to be considered a proficient swimmer.

Camp

A flyer came home from the kids’ school at the end of April, which listed some week-long camps offered through the school. Some are all day camps, and some are just morning or afternoon camps. Jase didn’t do a camp last year, so I was hoping to find something he would like.

He chose a Video Game Design camp aimed for kids age 9 to 13. Lexie who loves to draw and loves dogs found the perfect camp with The Secret Lives of Pets art class. She will learn how to draw anything with feathers, fur or scales.

Both camps are in July but unfortunately are not the same week.

Water Park/Pool

DSCN0132It is awesome that our neighborhood has a pool as that is free entertainment. We typically head there a few times a week. I like mornings because we 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 and can practice their swimming.

We also have a season pass to Six Flags, which includes their water park. We usually hit this about once a month.

School Review/Life Skills

OK, I am the type of mom who likes to make sure my kids don’t have that summer slide – this is where kids lose some of the knowledge they learned in school. We will practice math facts and of course do some reading. (Both the school, the library and a few book stores offer reading programs.) I am not talking about a lot of work – just a few minutes (or half an hour) here and there to help them retain those facts or work on areas recommended by their incoming grade level teachers.

Another thing we hope to go over this summer is some life skills. We are going to work on cooking (which we started over Spring Break). I want them to be able to read and follow a recipe. We will work on making sure they know how to do laundry, understand banks and credit cards and just be able to do some of the things that they take for granted as being done by me (or my husband).

Other Activities

IMG_4339We fill in our other free time with visits to the park, my parents’ house, or places that have offered deals on Groupon. With Groupon, we have gotten discount tickets for laser tag, bowling, the children’s museum and archery. Lexie also is continuing her weekly gymnastics class. Jase like going because he gets to hang out with a friend during that time. And of course we have just staying home and playing games, doing crafts or science experiments.

Any way you look at it, we will find ways to have a busy, fun summer. And before we know it, it will be back to school time.

Teaching the kids to swim

Lexie swimming (one closest to orange cone)

Lexie swimming (one closest to orange cone)

Today, Lexie has her fifth swim lessons. This is her first summer taking swim lessons. She was very excited – and a little nervous – to start them. By the second day, she decided learning to swim wasn’t as fun as she thought it would be.

Every summer, I typically look for swim lessons that fit into our schedule. Many places here seem to offer them the first few weeks of summer break, which is when we are on vacation. Our public parks program offers one near the end of June, but the locations are nowhere near us.

This year I went back to a location we used before when Jase turned 6. They are done through our local school district, which has partnered with Swim Academy to offer these lessons. The goal of the Swim America program is to first off ensure that your child is safe in and around the water. After they have worked on breathing, gliding and floating, they began teaching actual swimming strokes. I think the rate of $75 is reasonable for eight classes. The kids are taught in small groups of about four kids and as the kid progresses in skill, they are moved up to different classes. It is all based on what your child knows and can do.

Originally, only Lexie was going to take swim lessons. Jase was signed up for Star Wars Lego camp during her first week. And then suddenly we got the call that his camp was canceled because they didn’t meet the minimum enrollment. (This happened to him last year for Mad Science camp too. He just has bad luck so far with camps.) Since he was now free of activities, I was able to get him signed up for the same two weeks as Lexie but his class would be the one right after hers.

Jase (middle of pool) getting instructions.

Jase getting instructions.

Really, Jase should be a good swimmer by now, but he isn’t. We started him in once a week swim classes when he was 4. He did that for about 15 months. He loved his classes but never really learned to swim. I don’t think the once a week thing worked. So we did the Swim America lessons when he was 6 and then didn’t follow up the next year with additional classes as they either didn’t have them or couldn’t find the sign up. (Honestly, it is the hardest thing to find the website for signing up for these lessons even if you know they are out there so I don’t know how they get so many people there.)

Quite a few of my friends have said I should put the kids into a swim team, so they can learn to swim. Of course, most of our area swim teams have some sort of test before they let you on the team, and I don’t think my kids would pass it. Plus, I really have no desire to have them on swim team. I want our summers to be relaxing, not spent every morning bright and early at the pool.  (No offense meant to those of you who have kids on swim team or enjoy spending all your time at the pool, but that isn’t for us.)

So we will see how much they will learn in this final week of classes. Lexie has already advanced one skill level, and I expect Jase will too before it is over. Then it is up to us to keep practicing and of course decide if we want to do them next year – if they fit into our vacation schedule.