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No schedule, no problem this summer

July 16, 2004|by LISA PREJEAN

It seems like the Fourth of July comes earlier each summer. Then it's all downhill from there. All those neat, fun, somewhat educational things we planned to do with our kids get crowded out by our work schedules, their camp commitments or those outside projects we want to do before fall.

I've been trying to prevent that scenario by taking a somewhat laid-back approach to this summer. I've been working a lot, but I try to be available to my children on the days I'm off.

We're not participating in as many organized programs as in years past, but we are spending a good amount of time together.

The result? I'm getting to know them better.

We've had friends over.

We've cooked together.

We've played games.

Friends came over.

We've organized closets and drawers.

We swam.

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We went to parks.

Friends came. Oh, did I mention that friend thing already?

Perhaps I did because it is important to my children.

If the truth be known, it's just as important to me.

I love having a houseful of children. It helps me focus and appreciate my children as I watch them interact with their friends.

A couple of things happen when little guests are around.

I suggest activities that might not be as fun with just two children.

Want to finger-paint? No problem. We'll work together to get out the supplies, have fun creating and then work together to clean up the mess.

That's more fun than a video game.

Want to do a puppet show? Terrific. Let's pick a favorite storybook and revamp it to fit the puppets we have on hand. Who cares if "The Three Little Pigs" becomes "The Frog, the Turtle and the Queen?"

Much better than a cartoon.

Got a tune in your head? Let's put some words to it. How many silly rhymes can we create? Which ones are nonsense and which ones are real words?

We'll just keep the radio off today.

Want to go to the park?

OK. Let's see how many animals we can find. Do we know their names? Where they live? What they eat?

Children remember how a squirrel ran up a tree or a duck glided across a lake. Those images will help them create in art class and understand simple science concepts this fall.

Sure beats summer school.

What do we want to learn? Let's do a search on the library's online catalog and see how many books we can read on that topic.

Then we can share that information with our friends.

My son's goal is to read every military-related library book. We've had some interesting conversations on airplanes, helicopters and weapons of war.

For example, did you know that a hypervelocity missile flies at the speed of Mach 4.5? (Mach 1 is the speed of sound.) This missile will go so fast with such force that it doesn't need a warhead.

Most of this military talk is beyond me, but the look on his face as he excitedly explains it is priceless.

My daughter's library selections are all related to princesses.

From Cinderella to Belle, we've had slippers and crowns and princes all around.

Who needs Disney World?

After all that, is it snack time? (Always.)

Let's serve our friends first and see how contagious good manners can be.

Children really do learn what they live.

Let's make the most of the five more weeks before school starts.




Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at lisap@herald-mail.com.

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