This was the thought that kept dropping in my head as I returned from dropping my 3-year-old son off on his first day at summer school.
It was a tongue-in-cheek thought, seeing as the last summer holiday, I was low-key judging any mom dropping off her kids at summer school, especially one who is a stay-at-home mom.
At this moment, let me apologise. I am joining the bandwagon calling this ‘summer school’ in a country where the rain has been pouring.
It’s hardly summer around here, but for the purpose of uniformity, let’s go with summer school. I apologise if this offends you.
Ok, where were we? Ah, yes, my low-key judging.
I have always thought that summer school was for moms who are too busy to spend time with their kids, more interested in chasing the money. So as a mom, especially a stay-at-home mum-preneur, I was pretty much resolved to not even consider it.
This holiday though, I considered it here and there, and even looked at the newsletter my son’s school gave me at the graduation party. At first, I murdered the thought. Summer school was going to run from 9 to 1:30 PM and there would be no bus services. Hey, if they wasn’t willing to keep my kids till 4 PM, or at least 3 PM, then no dice.
In my head, I was looking for an escape for say 3 days a week (or more). I have a second baby, and various other responsibilities at home. I soon repented of that “bad mom” belief and decided we would be home together and play all summer.
Then I had this conversation that got me quiet (a miracle because I talk a lot) and then thinking. I rang one of my closest friends and as we gisted about this and that, she mentioned that her kids were starting summer school the following week. I paused. Summer school? She was a stay at home mom, and even though she had two boys, she also had a live-in help. So why summer school? I promise, I wasn’t judging. I just wanted to know why.
And she said something like, ‘Oh, because if they stay at home, all they will do is play, and I would love for them to learn some craft and stuff like that, which I’m unable to teach them at home by myself. Plus, I am studying for a professional exam and I could do with that quiet time too.
My friend just schooled me.
At that moment, I had a whole new perspective on summer school. It hit me. I needed summer school for my son too. This time, not just a place to dump him, but a place where he could learn beyond school work.
Frankly, I did worry about how to fill his holiday with activities. I was intentional about playing with him indoors and outdoors, and also revising his school work with him daily, so he doesn’t play away all he had learned. I must admit though that his screen time (TV and phone) was also getting longer than I would have loved, just so that I could keep him occupied. I was happy to consider summer school since we were not going to summer ‘in the abroad’.
Armed with this new knowledge and objective, I hit the streets for some school research. I was looking for one within my estate that offered a healthy mix of academics (yes, I still wanted him to learn, because you can’t just play for 2 months), fun and handiwork. I particularly didn’t want his school, even though I loved his school and all they were offering; I wanted a change of environment. Several schools later, I found one.
It was really close to home. They ran four days a week, from 9 to 2 PM. Two of those days were given to handiwork and crafts and the other two to academics.
They actually had a summer timetable of extra-curricular activities which I found really impressive. And they weren’t selling me a story. They had a WhatsApp group for parents and every day, they sent pictures of what your kids were up to and what they had made. I saw the evidence and I was sold.
I saw kids actually engaged in supervised but serious play, something every boy needs. Bonus point was that my spirit immediately accepted the class teacher and the admin staff who talked to me and took me around.
This whole holiday experience, for me, sounds like an investment and beats sitting at home and playing. It just works. My son doesn’t feel like he is going to school during the holiday, and when he’s back, he takes his bath and rests. I spend quality time with him revising and practising what he learned during the day, and screen time has reduced. Plus, I would have also achieved something else that day.
As a mom, some of my best ‘role-modelling’ will come from my children seeing me be more than mommy, and in activities that have nothing to do with them. Plus, if I am not as productive as I should be, at the end of the day, I most likely would be upset and frustrated and may actually take it out on him and everyone around me.
Now, some moms may actually have activities lined up for their kids at home that would allow the summer holidays be properly invested, but I don’t. Neither does my friend, hence our looking outside the home for help.
If summer school is an option, take it, and without guilt too. But, be sure that you are doing it for the right reasons, whatever your right reasons are. I heard a mom say on the day that I was making enquiries, that her kid was not doing well academically and so she wanted more attention to be spent on her academics as opposed to play. Her purpose for summer school is different than mine, but I am not allowed to judge her.
Some moms actually request longer hours and five days a week of summer school, but I swallow my opinions and thoughts on that, because I don’t know their stories or reasons. Not everyone doing summer school has a mindset like I had earlier, where I just wanted to dump my kid off somewhere.
My neighbour, she too a stay-at-home mom, takes her only daughter to summer school. I don’t know why, but I am too busy being a faithful member of the ‘Mind Your Business’ ministry to bother.
As a stay-at-home mom, you may still have a valid reason for sending your kids off. Settle that with your conscience, and find a school that works for you.
I made that decision and we (my son, my help, my husband, my at-home business, and my conscience) are all the better for it.