Summer in School

Summer is often a break from school. Unfortunately, summer frequently translates to a widening of gaps between poor and rich children. But, it should not be. Late last year, a study published in Science showed that a summer jobs program in Chicago reduced violent crime arrests by almost half.  Eight weeks translated to plummeting crimes over a 16-month period. Drugs and violence are perhaps synonymous with idle time and lack of direction. Even young children need to stay active and connected and summer is one opportunity for learning social skills, reconnecting with nature, staying physically active, and of course, making friends. Growing up, I spent my summer vacation in my mother's hometown. It was still a safe place to play in the street with other children. It was far from the city and much closer to nature. Sadly, times had changed that one must now worry when letting children play outside their homes. My children are lucky that the county we live in has a summer program for school-aged children. It is a program where teachers even make sure that both of my kids are eating well during lunch and snack times.

Fairfax county provides a summer camp that gives children a choice between being an athlete, performer or artist. My son obviously picks the athlete's cabin where he learns to play soccer, baseball, basketball, and tests his speed and stamina in track and field. My daughter chooses the theater where she acts and dances. The summer camp includes outdoor activities and field trips such as visits to a water park, a sporting event, and museums. Most important of all, the summer camp allows my children to spend a lot of time with other children.

In sports, performance, and the arts, the children learn to work together.

In one production, some children work as ushers, some help set up the stage, while others do the acting. Children and teachers work as a team. Fees to this summer program are adjusted according to family income.

News nowadays are truly disconcerting. However, there remains a lot of good things that are happening. And we need to keep in our minds that we are still a community and that we share so much in common. Drugs and violence happen when we forget our common thread.

Here is a video of the performance by my daughter and her classmates.