SUMMER PLAN BLUES: CHECK OUT THE WINDWARD SUMMER GUIDE

PARENT TO PARENT

SUMMER PLAN BLUES: CHECK OUT THE WINDWARD SUMMER GUIDE

By Jen DeVore and Christine Torre

As midterms fade into memory and February begins to slip by, parents start buzzing about summer plans for their kids.  In a by-gone era, summertime meant that kids could break out of the daily routine of school and have lots of free time.  Well, not so much anymore.  Many of us want to find summer options for our children that will enable them to pursue their passions in some type of structured program. 

When our kids were younger, we were mostly concerned that they get off the couch and stay occupied during the summer.  Any local day camp would fit the bill to keep them active, social and safe – and to prevent boredom and whining at home.  But by middle school, Christine’s son had aged-out and grown tired of the old reliable sports camps; most of his peers had moved on, and she was fresh out of ideas that held any interest for him.  

By the time our kids reach upper school, we can’t help but think about summer activities that might also enhance their college applications.  Many parents begin to focus more on encouraging their kids to have useful learning experiences during the summer, whether in an academic program or some sort of job.  Last summer, Jen’s kids were interested in taking a psychology class.  She researched the options and found that many universities across the country offer residential summer classes to high school students.  The choices out there are staggering.     

Of course, try to talk to your teenager about summer plans now.  You might get a blank stare, or -- less politely – a dozen reasons why it makes no sense to think about summer activities when they have a math test tomorrow morning.   For them, June is the distant future, and the present demands more than their full attention.    So how does a well-meaning parent get a jump on summer plans?   
 
Windward parents have access to an exclusive and valuable resource: each other.  Word-of-mouth and parent networking come together in the just-published 2015 edition of the Windward Summer Guide.  You can use the Summer Guide as a tool to help narrow down the options and find a great summer choice for your child.  The Summer Guide is designed for Windward families to pool and share information about their children’s summer activities. Hundreds of entries written by Windward parents describe their students’ summer experiences in established programs, group and family travel, and jobs or internships. With almost every submission, the parents have agreed to allow other Windward parents to contact them to get more details about their child’s summer experience. 

The Summer Guide lets you view a variety of opportunities through the eyes of other Windward parents – the good, the great and the not-so-good.  You’ll get more than the typical public relations information and endorsing testimonials that you’d find on the program websites.  Parents are candid:  “Absolutely not.  This was the worst waste of money I have ever spent on a summer program.”  “This drama program was a game-changer for [my daughter].  . . she loved being treated like a young adult.  A very positive and empowering experience overall.”  “Great for beginners, a little boring for advanced baseball players.”

The Summer Guide is posted online on the Windward website under the Community tab on the Parent Guild page, Summer Guide 2015.  It is neatly divided into nine subject areas: academics, arts, athletics, camps, community service, travel and work experiences, and other resources. A handy, four-page Table of Contents indexes all the entries right at the start of the Summer Guide and directs you to the page number for entries that interest you.  You can search for a specific program, browse to get inspired by what other students have done, and download selected information to create a list of possibilities for your Windward student to consider – maybe over Spring Break.  Most entries include an internet link, so with just a click you can get to the program’s full website.  The Summer Guide is also printable and easily portable as a PDF in an application like iBooks.

The Windward parent community pumps new life into the Summer Guide to keep it current and growing each year.  Parent Guild volunteers Berit Kerner and Adine Forman, co-chairs of the Summer Opportunities Committee, have meticulously processed information from parent surveys about the summer of 2014 to create this year’s edition.  This feedback is critical to keep making the Summer Guide a useful resource for the community year after year, and we hope you find it to be a helpful tool. 

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ALSO, DON'T FORGET THAT INFORMATION ON WINDWARD'S OWN SUMMER PROGRAMS IS COMING SOON TO WWW.WINDWARDSCHOOL.ORG/SUMMER. SAVE-THE-DATE INFORMATION IS CURRENTLY POSTED; REGISTRATION INFORMATION AND FURTHER DETAILS WILL BE AVAILABLE SHORTLY.
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Windward School is a 7-12, co-educational, independent day school in Los Angeles, California.