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Columns

July 6, 2014

CEPEDA: For July, let kids be kids

We're deep into my family's unprecedented "Summer of Lethargy.''

SOL (for those of you who like acronyms) is progressing as anyone might expect. At present count, my youngest son has been in pajamas for a good 42 hours and counting. My oldest hasn't done laundry in at least two weeks. No firm plans have been put into place for anything, with each day oozing unpredictably into the next.

After last year's "Summer of Busy Busy Fun!" (SOBBF doesn't adequately capture the ethos), during which we schlepped through multiple camps, outings, pool time, book clubs, the local amusement park, math worksheets, sporting activities and a too-long vacation that we'd booked before realizing every moment was accounted for, SOL was sorely needed.

In the key transition summer from middle to upper middle school for my younger son and from eighth grade to high school for my oldest, my husband and I were dead set against allowing any sort of summer brain drain to occur.

No siree, Bob, no one in my house was going to blow his crucial beginning-of-year benchmark tests or have a rough start in the fall.

In all, SOBBF was a successful endeavor. Both boys started school in early August — yes, early August! — in a strong position and did well in each of their new schools. They were mentally prepared for the higher expectations and, for the most part, met them. It was like a first marathon taken on with a 30-mile tempo run already under the belt.

The coming school year is a known quantity, however, so the gloves are off. There is a moratorium on screen-time limits, required reading has been temporarily suspended and even music lessons are on hold. The kids are chillin'.

Much has been made lately of unstructured free time for children. In The Atlantic, Jessica Lahey recently wrote "Why Free Play is the Best Summer School," a paean to the idylls of care-free summers:

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