We are welcoming Spring Break with open arms. Its a much needed step back from teaching and studying. The kids ended their semester with improved grades and we're thankful for the breather. Of course, this much down time can present its own problems. Kristina does well with structure and so this week promises to bring its own challenges.
I remember reading an article in middle school about Americans' preoccupation with entertainment and the "vast American wasteland" it made of our time. We've made more conscientious choices about how we spend our time in the last six months. We don't have cable, but we still found it tempting to sit and veg in front of the television when there's only 6 channels to choose from. So we pulled the plug. Just pulled it. Unless there's something we definitively want to watch, it stays off. Initially this was met with some resistance. But when we provided the kids with alternatives, they quickly moved on.
We push them outside to play as much as possible. The neighborhood kids inevitable gather outside our house for a four square match or to ride bikes and skateboard. I'm typing away in the Adirondack chairs right now as eight children zip across the yard in a high drama game of hide and seek. The weather has been great and we've even been able to venture out to the pool. Kristina is re-learning how to swim, but she's determined!
We also limited the kids' access to the computer and video game system. For the last few years we only allowed them to play games on the weekends, but we found that when we wanted to go somewhere the kids would start whining about their "play time". So we changed their tech time to Friday afternoons after school. That leaves Saturday and Sunday open for family outings with no complaints.
Our kids are growing up fast and we want to teach them to be good stewards of their time. I'm sure part of this stems from my background as an English teacher, but we are encouraging our kids to be voracious readers. We have a wonderful local library and take full advantage its services. Robert makes a habit of taking one kid at a time with him to Starbucks on the weekend. They arrive at 6am, grab a hot chocolate, settle into the comfy chairs in the lobby, and read for an hour until they can watch the sun come up.
Books in Kristina's native language have been hard to come by. She has a New Testament in Russian that she reads diligently with a highlighter in hand. I'm thinking of purchasing her a parallel version with English in one column and Russian in the other. Before I left Ukraine, I managed to get a copy of Eragon in Russian for Kristina.She took one look at the size of the book (768 pages)and declared she couldn't read it, it was too big. With a little encouragement she made it through and was asking for the next book in the series. In hindsight, I wish I had purchased a few more books for her in Russian. Its been incredibly difficult to find anything online. I took her to the library in search of something in English she could understand and found a series of Hannah Montana books that she was interested in. Before I knew it she was reading two books a day and had exhausted the series. The search was on for something else that she would enjoy and comprehend. She recently found Tales of the Frog Princess, a series by E.D. Baker, and has been reading nonstop. These are age level books and we're amazed at her ability to understand and enjoy the literature. She carries her library card like it worth gold. Rarely does she goes out without a book tucked in her purse. We went for a picnic at the state park down the road yesterday. As we walked the boardwalk through the nature trail, we discovered they had built an enclosed glass gazebo that stretches out over the water on the lake. In the center of the structure are benches that provide scenic panoramic views of the waters. Guess where we're heading with our books tomorrow . . .