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Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014

Burning off that summer energy

Thursday, June 21, 2012

It offically arrived today, but we have been at it since school dismissed and the Memorial Day weekend.

I have long believed that we are busiest in summer before it gets too hot, so June and July are more structured and hectic.

Right now, parents of children involved in little league are spending many evenings at the ball field. The same is true of our high school baseball and softball squads.

The ball field is a great place to spend some time, as long as a breeze can be caught to make it a bit more pleasant and to hopefully keep the insects at bay. While it may be hectic for the six weeks or so that the little league season is going on, it does provide structure for young athletes and a way to burn off some of that seemingly endless supply of energy that children have. It seems like they have even more in the summertime, freed from the shackles of the classroom.

It very well could be the ultimate renewable energy source.

Where children see summer as a time to be free from the shackles and structure of the classroom, parents see the summer as a challenge. The structure and routine of school is appreciated by many parents who see this framework as good for their children.

Summer is the exact opposite.

There are those that argue that we should simply allow "kids to be kids" during the summer, relaxing from the pressures of the school year and playing.

Educators tell us that they spend at least the first month, if not longer, of the school year refreshing and replenishing the knowledge that is lost or forgotten over the three month summer break.

This is the essence of the case for year-round school. If the entire year is utilized, with strategic breaks placed throughout the calendar, students and families will have time for vacations and students and teachers won't get burned out.

Year-round school has been discussed for years, and a few districts have given it a try, but it hasn't caught on, for a number of reasons.

But that doesn't necessarily mean that children should allow their brains to take three months off.

There are many different ways to keep children active in mind as well as in body this summer. In addition to little league, the YMCA has a number of activities year-round. Swimming is an excellent way to burn off that energy (as well as walking or biking to and from the pool). Vacation bible schools offer mental, physical and spiritual challenges.

An excellent resource that is, in my opinion, under-utilized in the summer and year-round is the public library.

Reading is a skill that we all need throughout our lives. Being able to access information is an essential skill that everyone needs as well.

Both of these can be learned and reinforced at the public library.

My late mother was an avid and voracious reader. She polished off several books a week, reading during any spare time that was available. At her zenith, she belonged to at least two book-of-the-month clubs and made regular visits to the public library, where she served as board president for 40 years.

We learn by example, and two of my sisters became librarians. I read for leisure, not at the rate my mother did, but I do my best. It is a wonderful way to learn new things and open up your imagination.

Public libraries in Le Mars and around the county will host summer reading programs for children of all ages. I encourage parents to get their children involved in these sessions, which entertain as well as inform.

The short and long term benefits are positive. Children keep and build their reading skills, hopefully helping when they return to school in the fall. They also can develop a love of reading for recreation, which will serve them well throughout their lives.

Plus it's free!

As always, I welcome your comments. You can reach me by email at tstangl@lemarscomm.net, telephone 712-546-7031, x40 or toll free 1-800-728-0066 x40.

Thanks for reading, I'll keep in touch. Feel free to do the same.

By Tom Stangl
From the publisher's desk