I’m Taking a Summer Break From Learning and Thinking Differences

No more homework! No more books!

School is finally out, and my kids are looking forward to their well-deserved summer vacation. But guess who’s even happier? Yup, you got it—me.

Let’s be honest, parenting kids who learn and think differently during the school year is stressful. In some ways, I think it’s almost like being an emergency “first responder.”

In the mornings, I’m like a firefighter after the alarm goes off. “Wake up! Are you up? Hello!!! Time to get up…. Where are your shoes? Did you brush your teeth? The bus is coming in four minutes!” By the end of the morning, I feel like I’ve put out a dozen fires.

In the afternoon, when they get home from school, I’m the homework cop. “Time to get started. I said NOW. I’m setting the timer!”

On bad days, I’m a paramedic. Though I’m rescuing my kids from emotional, not physical, danger.

But in the summer, we can put school—and all the structure and anxiety it brings—to the side. My kids can go focus on doing what they love and being who they are, instead of always working on their “issues.” And I can go back to just being a doting mom.

My daughter, for example, loves arts and crafts. We’re going to organize all her supplies together so she can see what she has and let her imagination go wild. She might spend one day creating 50 different models of paper airplanes and testing them to see which flies the best. Another day she’ll design “jewelry” with her rainbow loom.

Her big brother is a technology kid who loves comedy. He’s been teaching himself to add humor to videos by changing the background sounds or music. I confess I don’t always get the jokes (although I usually laugh anyway). But I think it’s so cool that his sense of humor motivates him to expand his computer skills.

I’m not suggesting it isn’t important to keep up with reading and other school skills. But summer is about having the freedom to enjoy the things you love. So this summer, I’m ditching my firefighter, police and paramedic uniforms, so I can enjoy what I love most—being a mom to my kids.

Here are just a few of the things I plan to do to make it happen.

  • Avoid scheduling early morning activities.
  • Allow my kids to get a little bored.
  • Have a few lazy days when the family doesn’t have anything planned.
  • Set aside time for myself so I can recharge.
  • Indulge my kids’ passions and hobbies, no matter how quirky.
  • Have a glass of wine (or two!) with dinner.

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About the author

About the author

Jenifer Kasten is a special education consultant and the parent of two children with learning and thinking differences.