Friday, July 18, 2008

Summer Time Fun!

Summer is always fun time for kids in the US because they don’t have school, no homework, but only fun-filled camps, vacations, or just hanging around! Not Chinese kids, though! Nowadays, during summer break urban Chinese kids go to Olympic math, Oxford English, piano, swimming, painting and endless classes, in addition to doing their daily homework for the summer break.

When I first time heard about summer camps in the US, I thought these camps are only for learning different things because the direct translation of summer camps - Xia Ling Ying in Chinese means schools for kids to learn during summer break. I thought American kids, just like Chinese kids, have to study during summer break, too. Then I saw my friends send their kids to camps where they just played. Later, it was my turn to choose a camp for my son. I realized all those camps are only for play, sports, arts, dance or music. I didn't see any classes to study anything except computers, which is just for fun, too. Since my son doesn't want to do sports, arts, dance, or music camps, I just sent him to one of those fun playing camps. Every day they just went to different places to play. Parks, swimming pools, museums, out-of-city drives - he had lots of fun and loved it. When he was old enough to attend overnight camp, he started going to another fun-filled camp and stayed two to four weeks. He has so much fun there that he looks forward to going every year!

Last year, when a friend told me she sent her son to a writing camp, I thought she was crazy because now in my mind summer camps are only for fun, not for studying! How can kids go to camp to study? But a few months ago, I noticed my son really needed to improve his writing skills and I started looking for camps that teach writing, I found only one camp that teaches different subjects and when we received the demo DVD, we were disappointed and didn't know what to do. I asked my friend about that writing camp, and she advised us not to do it because her son didn't enjoy it all. You see, it confirmed how I felt when she first told me about it.

But I didn't give up. I signed up my son to do the overnight camp for only two weeks and hoped something would come up later. Luckily, his new school (he will start in middle school this fall) offers a summer program teaching creative writing, math, music, and studio art to prepare kids for the middle school. I was so happy that he can finally study during summer break. But when he came back from overnight camp, he was so sad because he wanted to stay longer! This made me feel terrible and I thought maybe he should only have fun in the summer, not study.

So now a week has passed with his summer school. He liked it very much, and even learned some grammar for writing that he didn't learn in the previous school. I am so relieved - finally someone teaches him grammar! Sometimes I still feel he should have stayed at the other camp longer to have more fun, but then I know it's worthy to go to summer school and learn something new! And compared with the schedules Chinese kids face in the summer, his classes are only a piece of sweet cake.