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Calizzy

Summer school or swim team? Help me pick

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I am trying to decide between summer school and swim team for my 2 odd’s ages 11 and 9. I really want to do both, but they occur at the same time and it’s not possible 😞 I’m really stuck and can’t decide. We have never tried either in the past. I have 4 kids, 11, 9, 7, and 4. Here is my pro/con list:

summer school (provided by our local school district):

-free

-see neighborhood friends

- gives mom a 6 hour break every day for a whole month!  **this is the main pro**

- might learn something

- good trial of public schools, as we have been thinking of using public high school in a few years. 


swim team:

- fun

- I think odd would thrive in an individual sport- she has only played team sports but is competitive and I would like to see her push herself. 
- make friends

- strengthen swimming skills

- we have lived in our city for 2.5 years and are still trying to figure out exactly where we fit in. We are always looking for some sort of club where we might find “our people.” 

cons:

-costs $

- I would have to drive and stay there 2 hours every day for 2 months. I’m not sure if having to go would actually drive me crazy.

 

 

summer school is only 1 month whereas swim team is almost 2. I’m not sure if this is a pro or con...

any thoughts? Wwyd?


 

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Do they have the opportunity to learn to swim outside of the summer session?

If they could take swim in the Not-Summer months then, in your shoes, I would lean more towards summer school. If this is pretty much their only chance to learn to swim, I'd go with swim because I consider it a life skill.

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Have you talked to any parents who have done summer school? I assume you live in CA. I have witnessed CA free summer school programs at our local school. These are provided as childcare for dual-income families. I think our district provides them because we have enough kids that qualify for free or reduced lunch.

These programs always sound like fun. Minecraft theme! Dance musical party theme! Learn to Code! Shopkins Extravaganza! Throw in whatever educational buzzword theme! STEM Camp! I understand that the majority of the families who participate have no choice. This is their best childcare option, and I am thankful that they have options. That being said, our district's summer program is my version of hell, I dont care how wonderfully it is marketed. It is barely controlled chaos, with well over 100 kids in a cafeteria for half the day. They can go into classrooms for a "fun learning experience" and also have outside activity on the playground. 

It is just like school, but with even more pointless "learning" involved. The amount of noise is enough to make you want to stab your ears. The chaos would make all but the most ardent of extroverts want to curl up in a corner. I truly dont know how some of these kids cope with it. 

Also, not to put too fine a point on it, your kids will learn something, all right. They will learn lots of things. It just might not be the stuff you want them to learn...

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Around here those are radically different experiences. The ps summer school is extended school year, and I think like others are saying they may run some nifty camps for junior high. But you'd want to know what kind of kids are hanging there. If it's more remedial or filled with discipline problems, your kids might not enjoy it. And the longer swim team camps like that around here are pretty fun, pretty chilled. They swim seriously and then play, and they have a few meets over the summer. So that's pretty much guaranteed fun as long as your kids want to be in the water.

Since compliance and willingness to attend is a big deal in our house, the summer school wouldn't even be on the list. I think make sure the summer school will be doing something they'll want to do.

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What are your options?
 

I recommend talking to other moms and dads. I personally love the idea but your kids may not. I think you should try to find out more first before making a decision either way on committing yourself. 

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We aren't in California, we are in the mid west. We have friends who have done summer school and really liked it- said it was more project based learning. But that was elementary and odd would be in middle school- not sure if it would make a difference. They kids are in classes, not just free play in the gym. And even if it was horrible and they hated it the benefit would be they would more appreciate homeschool! 

They do already know how to swim. Every summer we get a membership to the local outdoor pool, so without swim team they will still swim for fun a couple of times a week. Swim team just adds the community and competition.

My kids are open to either idea. 

 

 

Edited by Calizzy

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Summer school.  
 

Edit:  no way would I drive somewhere for 2 hours.  No way.  
 

Summer school is more likely to meet nearby kids who might be free to hang out the rest of summer.  
 

I don’t think you have to do either one.  Summer school would be much easier to quit if they don’t like it.  You are probably going to stay with swim lessons if they don’t like it bc you have paid.  It sounds like some intense swimming to sign up for if you don’t know if they like it that much.  Maybe start with once a week.  
 

Just my thoughts.  Either does sound good!  Or neither 😉

Edited by Lecka

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Is it driving for two hours or a short drive and staying for two hours? And what will the younger kids be doing? Will they be able to free swim or will you have to entertain them? If it's the latter I would definitely lean towards the school instead. 

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3 hours ago, Calizzy said:

We aren't in California, we are in the mid west. We have friends who have done summer school and really liked it- said it was more project based learning. But that was elementary and odd would be in middle school- not sure if it would make a difference. They kids are in classes, not just free play in the gym. And even if it was horrible and they hated it the benefit would be they would more appreciate homeschool! 

They do already know how to swim. Every summer we get a membership to the local outdoor pool, so without swim team they will still swim for fun a couple of times a week. Swim team just adds the community and competition.

My kids are open to either idea. 

 

 

Sorry about the assumption. I erroneously read your screenname as CA Lizzy. It sounds like your summer school option is much better than ours😁

 

18 minutes ago, SanDiegoMom in VA said:

Is it driving for two hours or a short drive and staying for two hours? And what will the younger kids be doing? Will they be able to free swim or will you have to entertain them? If it's the latter I would definitely lean towards the school instead. 

Is there a park or something nearby for you and the younger kids? If there is nothing for them to do, then summer school sounds better. What do your kids want to do?

We do math and reading year-round, but I think my kids (same ages as yours) would seriously resent it if I put them in a 6-hr a day school program in the summer so that I could have a break from them for 6 hours. Is there any option between these two extremes? Like riding their bikes around the neighborhood for an hour a day and finding friends? Or walking to a nearby park and playing there? 

This gets into one of my beefs with parenting in modern society (not at all directed at OP). There is so little opportunity for our kids to just go play with other kids without the parents (mostly the mom) being the event planner and cruise ship director. You understandably want a mental break from parenting for a few hours a day in the summer. This is not a big ask. This is something that parents throughout all time have expected of their 9 and 11 year-old kids. To fend for themselves for a few hours without needing an adult. But instead, the way modern society is built, we get pigeonholed into a situation where the options are 6-hour-a-day summer school, or driving and staying for 2 hours of swim. My mother would have laughed at this dilemma and said, "I just sent you to play outside and you stayed there all day." 

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I wouldn't do either of those things. Summer school without a specific academic need sounds like a huge bummer. Two hour daily swim team where you have to stay for *two months* is just beyond the pale for me. Heck no. 

That said, does ODD stand for oppositional defiance disorder? If so, is there something more specific to her needs? ...if it's just Oldest Dear Daughter, I'd find something else, or nothing at all. ymmv

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Why do you have to stay every single day for swim team? Is that how people really do things? All my friends with kids in sports can drop them off. Especially by middle school. 

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Well the summer school could be a lot of different things.  It could be fun and lots of playing, or it could be sitting kids on computers.  It is probably hard to know until you try and see if your kids like it and hit it off with kids there, like the teachers or counselors, etc etc.  

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We are a swimming family and I read your thread title to my two boys and they died laughing at how obvious a choice it was and then were appalled when I told them everyone so far had said summer school. There aren’t a lot of things I can say anymore that leave two teenage boys speechless, so that was fun. 😂

In all seriousness, we have loved swimming. We’ve done swim team every summer since my oldest was 6 or 7 and he is now 16. All three kids swim. My two oldest coach. My oldest is a lifeguard. My daughter also dives and loves that. Summer swim has also grown into a year round sport for us, my oldest will likely swim in college. They all sort of smell like chlorine all the time.

That said, I do understand that families are all different and it’s not for everyone. I have friends that absolutely love various things that I think are as crazy as they think swim team is. 

Pros of swim team for us...
*It’s a sport where all the kids can do it at the same time in the same place. We tried other sports that meant we had to be at three different places at the same time.  With swimming, we are all at the pool together. Meets are at the same time, regardless of age. Social events are the same, regardless of age. 

*When they were younger, I did stay at the pool during practice. Mostly, I didn’t mind it. When my younger kids were two little for swim team, I would hang out with other Moms with little kids or play in the pool with my kids. It was a great summer activity for us and relatively cheap way to get out of the house every day. I’m an introvert and like staying home but I also appreciated having a place to go and socialize.  I have a lot of “summer friends” now that we are close to and enjoy spending a LOT of time with for two months a year. 

*Because of the all-age thing, my kids have made friends of different ages. And they also have had the chance to be mentored by older kids and now to be coaches and mentors for younger kids. That’s a great opportunity and not one you see in a lot of sports. It’s almost homeschooler like. My kids all love our summer team and some of their closest friends are from that, even if they don’t see them as much during the school year. 

*It is a great sport for exercise. I love that it emphasizes the individual within the context of a team. You can always push yourself to get a best time even if you aren’t the star swimmer. 

Cons of swim team....

* It is an intense season. Here, we end up in practice M-F and then there are two meets a week in the summer. Add social activities to that and it can be a lot. Again, for the most part that has been a good thing for us. Partially that’s because we lead a more relaxed life in the school year. We’ve also developed a rhythm where late May/early June and August are very relaxed months for us and then we have an intensely social and physical summer and a more academic school year. 

*You will almost certainly be called on to volunteer. Or you have to be there. I know for a lot of parents that’s a deal breaker. 

*That’s really all the cons I can think of....maybe all the wet towels. And the perpetual chlorine smell? 🙂

 

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My kids went to the elementary school for a year 2 years ago, so we know a lot of the community there. It's a nice neighborhood school. I think summer school would be fine. My oldest would be in the middle school and the idea of having a schedule and changing classes is magical to her. I guess you can say she is a bit nerdy! 

The drive to the pool is less than 10 minutes. I didn't think about dropping them off. I guess I could do that! 

I know we don't HAVE to do anything. I just LIKE to do things like this. My kids do free play a lot. They run all around the neighborhood and wreck all kinds of havoc with neighbor friends 🙂. In fact, this is exactly what they are doing right now.

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58 minutes ago, Calizzy said:

The drive to the pool is less than 10 minutes. I didn't think about dropping them off. I guess I could do that! 

 

Oh, man. Do that! 

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Well I would pick summer school.  But my kids would burn out on the swimming.  I know them.  They find two weeks of swim lessons every day to be a lot for them!  
 

But swimming does sound good, too.  They both sound good.  
 

My daughter did a week-long gymnastics camp where she went 2 hours a day (iirc, maybe it was 90 minutes) and she would not have lasted 2 months.

But some kids thrive with that schedule 🙂

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If you think your kids might want to join a swim team, summer swim is great. Around here, it is usually taught by the coaches of the year long team and there are two or three "fun meets" so the kids can get a feel for what the swim team would be like. Swim teams are usually an all year commitment and can get expensive. If that won't be an option you might want to mention it to your kids up front, the coaches here try and recruit the kids that do well in summer swim. 🙂

 

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This has all been very helpful for thinking this through. Thank you all for your input and experiences. 

Alice- there are several teams in my area that we could join. Is there something I should look for if choosing one? Anything I should ask beforehand?

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I would do swim.  You can take a yoga mat and workout while you wait, or take a computer and do work.  Or read.  2 hrs of peace every day is lovely.  My kids swim 4 days a week in summer.

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7 hours ago, Calizzy said:

This has all been very helpful for thinking this through. Thank you all for your input and experiences. 

Alice- there are several teams in my area that we could join. Is there something I should look for if choosing one? Anything I should ask beforehand?

 

I’d make sure your younger kids can use the pool, if they won’t all be on on the team. 

If you can ask other parents I’d look for a coach who has the goal of making it fun and having the kids love the sport.  The coach pretty much sets the environment. I personally think adult coaches who are more experienced are better than college students, but a lot of times it’s college students. We have the benefit of having a coach who has been around forever and has a good perspective on life and swimming. That’s not to say college students and high school students can’t coach...my two teens coach but they do so under the guidance of an adult who shows them how to be a good coach. 

I think the swimming culture is different in different places. But in general, I’d see if there are teams that are known for being really intense or being “fastest” or the “top” teams. I would personally avoid those. 🙂 They tend to be much more intense experiences. That might not be an issue where you are. Here, summer swimming is all through private swim clubs. There are ones that are known for always being at the top. There are people who want to join those and go on long waitlists to do so. And there are others of us who like the slightly more laidback experience. The same goes for the winter teams here. 

Ask up front what other commitments there are for you. Are there meets? How often? Do you have to volunteer? Hidden costs- (team suits, social activities that everyone is doing but cost money, etc)? 

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I'm in Texas. I have no idea how your local summer swim compares to ours. However, it sounds similar with lasting for two months. I have had some combination of my children on summer swim for the last five years. They start counting down until the start date in January. It completely changed one of my kid's lives. He literally was an extremely difficult, defiant kid until he became a swimmer. Now, he lives for the pool. He said at one point, "swim saved my life." 

Summer swim can be completely exhausting. We have 5-6 meets a summer that start no later than 5:45am. You are required to volunteer about 20 hours at meets. I have stood in the hot sun timing for hours. I've invested evenings in stroke judge training and head timer training. I've spent meets wrangling way too many 6 and under boys. I am at the pool a minimum of two hours a day for two months plus.

It's the best extra curricular we've ever participated in. I enjoy the hangout time with other parents as much as my kids enjoy the water. We've had coaches who have mentored my children for years.  We plan vacations around it. We have never missed a swim meet in five summers. A month off of kids would be tempting. But, I wouldn't trade summer swim for pretty much anything.

I now have three kids in year round swim as well. Just consider how much you enjoy the smell of chlorine before getting sucked into swim! 

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22 hours ago, Alice said:

We are a swimming family and I read your thread title to my two boys and they died laughing at how obvious a choice it was and then were appalled when I told them everyone so far had said summer school. There aren’t a lot of things I can say anymore that leave two teenage boys speechless, so that was fun. 😂

🙂

 

 

I asked my 7 year old what he thought I should say. He stood with his mouth hanging open for like 5 minutes in shock that any child could have to do school instead of summer swim! 

Can the 7 year old not participate? Two of mine started at age 6! The others started later, but only because we moved here when they were 10 and 7!

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On 2/18/2020 at 9:35 PM, Calizzy said:

 summer school (provided by our local school district):

-free

-see neighborhood friends

- gives mom a 6 hour break every day for a whole month!  **this is the main pro**

A break for mom is a big deal!  Your kids are open to it, it's only a month, I would absolutely give it a try. Even with kids in classrooms, they usually mix things up quite a bit in (voluntary) summer school, with more variety and hands-on and breaks, and very little time crunch or academic pressure. When you don't go all the time, a month of voluntary summer school can be a fun change. 

I think it's also a plus for the kids to have a break from each other. The bigs get out on their own a bit, the littles have the novel experience of being the bigs at home. 

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No question—swim team! Summer swim has been the highlight of my kids’ summers from ages 5-18. Great fitness, great friendships, great fun. It can be a little exhausting, but that comes with having four kids and just life.
 

Summer school sounds like torture. I agree with previous poster that they’ll learn a lot, but it may not be what you were hoping they would learn. 

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19 minutes ago, fourisenough said:

No question—swim team! Summer swim has been the highlight of my kids’ summers from ages 5-18. Great fitness, great friendships, great fun. It can be a little exhausting, but that comes with having four kids and just life.
 

Summer school sounds like torture. I agree with previous poster that they’ll learn a lot, but it may not be what you were hoping they would learn. 

Agree 100%.  

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2 hours ago, fourisenough said:

No question—swim team! Summer swim has been the highlight of my kids’ summers from ages 5-18. Great fitness, great friendships, great fun. It can be a little exhausting, but that comes with having four kids and just life.
 

Summer school sounds like torture. I agree with previous poster that they’ll learn a lot, but it may not be what you were hoping they would learn. 

However super dependent on personality! My somewhat introverted younger kids hated summer swim here -- we had such high hopes! It's right down the street, they would be meeting friends in the neighborhood, good exercise, etc.  However it to my kids it was chaotic, loud, swim meets were boring and loud and crowded, and they were so over it by the second season.  

 

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18 hours ago, staceyobu said:

 

It's the best extra curricular we've ever participated in. I enjoy the hangout time with other parents as much as my kids enjoy the water. We've had coaches who have mentored my children for years.  We plan vacations around it. We have never missed a swim meet in five summers. A month off of kids would be tempting. But, I wouldn't trade summer swim for pretty much anything.

I now have three kids in year round swim as well. Just consider how much you enjoy the smell of chlorine before getting sucked into swim! 

 

Yep. We have to a meet this summer for the first time in like 10 years. We’re going to a family wedding. My oldest is buying his own plane ticket and flying up the day of the wedding so that he can still go to the meet. The younger two are angry that we’re not letting them do that as well. 

18 hours ago, staceyobu said:

 

I asked my 7 year old what he thought I should say. He stood with his mouth hanging open for like 5 minutes in shock that any child could have to do school instead of summer swim! 

 

 

My daughter’s reactions was  “wait, is summer school like a punishment?” 

I also was laughing because the swim people are all obviously a little bit in the same cult. We’re all like, “it’s a ton of time and work and you’re at the pool all day and you’ll smell like chlorine all the time and have wet towels perpetually in your laundry room and have to stand outside in the sun for hours at a time...and it’s AWESOME”. 

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2 hours ago, Alice said:

 

Yep. We have to a meet this summer for the first time in like 10 years. We’re going to a family wedding. My oldest is buying his own plane ticket and flying up the day of the wedding so that he can still go to the meet. The younger two are angry that we’re not letting them do that as well. 

 

My daughter’s reactions was  “wait, is summer school like a punishment?” 

I also was laughing because the swim people are all obviously a little bit in the same cult. We’re all like, “it’s a ton of time and work and you’re at the pool all day and you’ll smell like chlorine all the time and have wet towels perpetually in your laundry room and have to stand outside in the sun for hours at a time...and it’s AWESOME”. 

Exactly!!  Who wouldn’t want to go to the pool all day everyday?!  😄

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Swimming every summer is one of my fondest memories from childhood, and I am sad I cannot give it to my kids.

I did take some summer school in HS -- but it was to be able to take the classes I WANTED to take during the school year.

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Swim.

Summer school, in my experience is chaotic and understaffed.  If you're thinking of sending your kids to public school down the road you want their first experience to be positive.

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Swim our summer swim team is great.  My have done it every year since they were like 7 &5.  They have fun and it's a great workout to.  While they practice hard the commitment is not intense.  No one gets in trouble for missing practice.  We only have meets every other week and you tell the coaches if you will be there so they can assign races.  They do make parents volunteer but some of the jobs are super easy.  Like being a spotter during backstroke so no one hits their head during the race.  

Edited to add we would plan vacations around meets but our is not this organized.  We never know the meet schedule until like a week after swim practice has started. 

Edited by rebcoola

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1 hour ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

Swim.

Summer school, in my experience is chaotic and understaffed.  If you're thinking of sending your kids to public school down the road you want their first experience to be positive.

To be fair, I'm not sure that's true about summer school everywhere.  It's apparently WONDERFUL in our district.  But, I think swimming is a pretty crucial life skill.  That's probably what I would go with.  

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On 2/25/2020 at 10:50 PM, Terabith said:

 But, I think swimming is a pretty crucial life skill.  That's probably what I would go with.  

Summer swim team will give kids endurance, pacing, and a consistency to their strokes that will stay with them. It is totally worth a summer or two, even if your kids are not fast. (Mine aren't!)

As a lifelong lifeguard and swimming instructor, I see great long term safety benefits for kids who spend a while on a swim team.

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