School's out for the summer ... now what?

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Now one week into summer vacation, some of Moffat County's youths already are wondering what to do with their abundance of time.

For 14-year-old Michael Green, that's an easy question.

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"If I could play my PlayStation 2 all the time, that's what I'd do," he said. "But I'm limited on how much I can play it."

So, to fill the void, he listens to music, rides his bike, goes to the pool and plays baseball. He might even get a job mowing lawns like he did last summer.

Craig Middle School Principal Bill Toovey said those are good ideas. Some students do not participate in social or academic activities in the summer months and can take a while to return to the swing of things in the fall.

"It's just like sports. If you lay off for a while, you're going to get rusty," Toovey said. "It's just getting back up to speed."

But that doesn't mean the summer needs to be filled with tests. Toovey recommends some games that are fun and educational, such as puzzles or Sudoku.

"Some students really get into those," Toovey said. "It is the mental challenge that comes with it."

Most importantly, however, may be keeping reading skills sharp, Toovey said.

Summer reading programs, such as the one offered at Moffat County Libraries, give children -- as well as teens and adults -- a chance to discover new books and participate in reading-related activities.

"It helps the children keep their reading scores up for the summer," said Craig branch manager Sherry Sampson. "And it promotes reading -- to keep that instilled in them."

She sees the library's program working. The library's weekly story times' attendance has nearly doubled since school got out May 24, and the library now offers three story times -- at 10, 10:30 and 11 a.m. -- instead of two on Thursdays.

Sarah Schwingdorf, 6, is involved in the library's story times and summer program. Her mother, Gina Schwingdorf, said the program, as well as books on tape, help keep her daughter sharp during a month-long respite they are taking from home schooling.

"This will kind of fill the gap while we're taking a break," Gina said. "(Otherwise) they'll go idle, lose their knowledge. We do this so she doesn't have to relearn everything."

For some, maintaining their edge may involve a novel. For others, board games or a recreational league may do the trick. Regardless, Toovey said, it's best for youths to keep their minds and bodies active in some way this summer.

"Something that just keeps them energized and going," Toovey said. "There's thought process involved with all of that. It just keeps their mind engaged and moving."

For more information on Moffat County Libraries' summer reading program, call the Craig branch at 824-5116.

  • Keep in touch with school friends by exchanging contact information and then phoning, e-mailing, writing and visiting.
  • Day camp and sleep-away camp experiences provide the opportunity to build independence, create new friendships and pursue interests.
  • Ask your child to make an oral or written current events report for dinner-table discussion.
  • Pick an article from the newspaper or TV/radio/Internet news and be ready to share facts and your opinion.
  • Engage your child in discussions about the television shows and movies he or she watches.
  • Involve children in trips to the supermarket and other family chores. Depending on children's ages, they can help find items on your list, help prepare the list of things to buy or do, do the mental math of estimating how much you have left to spend as you go along and figure out how much change to expect.
  • Involve your child in planning a family outing or extended vacation. If you're going to the movies, let him or her figure out or assist in calculating how much the tickets/snacks will cost and/or let him or her check the listing or call to find out when the movie begins. Family vacations could call for help in figuring out where to go, where to stay, how to get there and getting information. Day trips or extended vacations also are wonderful opportunities to start or add to collections, create organized displays and research a collection topic by getting information from books, the Internet and experts. Writing captions for a photo album, creating a video slide show or family scrapbook also are worthwhile responsibilities.

Source: New York University Child Study Center (www.aboutourkids....

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