Summer is supposed to be this magical time where teachers can relax and rejuvenate. That’s what they say anyway.
But, if you’re like me you find yourself running the rat race in the summer just as much as you do during the school year. For me, I always have several professional projects to take care of,and my own kids keep me busy as well. The past couple of summers have been less than relaxing for me. So, I decided to make some changes.
Permission to Staycation
I decided that we do not have to take a bunch of elaborate vacations. I know that sounds like a first world problem, but I love to travel and I want my children to have those experiences. However, I spent the last two summers cramming in three and four big trips with my family. I have finally admitted to myself that it is just too much. I give myself permission to go absolutely nowhere this summer.
Giving myself that permission has really eased my mind a lot. It is okay not to take a vacation. It is okay to spend the entire summer in my lovely home with my lovely children. We will find non-stressful things to do. The great thing about this is that nothing is set in stone. If we decide not to go do something, we won’t lose any money or even have to feel guilty about not showing up. This shows me, finally, that there is value in a staycation!
Non-Stressful Things to Do
Now, I do usually really love to visit the art museums and do other artsy things when we go on vacations. I think that is one reason that I have always tried to cram in as many trips during the summer as possible. There’s so much to see and do. I worry I won’t have time in my life to do and see it all. Plus, as a teacher, there’s never enough time during the school year for extra things. So, I guess, I always try to cram it all in during the summer.
I’ve really been reflecting on this though, and I now realize that there are a million artsy things to see and do right here in my own state. I don’t always have to travel across the country to have those experiences.
Here are some ideas I’ve had for artsy experiences for my summer that don’t require me to leave my state:
There are a couple of universities within driving distance of my house. These universities have exhibits, sculpture gardens, etc. I plan to pack a lunch one day and have a picnic on the grounds of the campus and have a stroll with my children. We can then visit the museum for a couple of hours. The best part is we can go and come right back in an afternoon.
There is so much art to be found in nature, and there are at least 5 lakes with parks within driving distance of my home. Again, I can pack a lunch and the traveling hammock. My kids and I can have an afternoon watching the way the sun peeks through the trees. We can look for patterns in leaves. We can do rubbings of the bark on the trees. Again, this is something we can do in an afternoon.
I live in a small town. At first, you might think there’d be very little public art in such a small place, but when I sit down to make a list I realize there is actually a great deal. There are a few murals that our high school students have painted over the years. There is a tiny little public area in walking distance from one of those murals that has a few sculptures. Our library also has art reproductions hanging upstairs. I imagine this would be a nice little walking tour, again with a packed lunch for the sculpture area.
Did You Get Any Ideas?
My goal for writing this piece was to show you that you can give yourself permission to stay home over the summer. I also wanted to give you some ideas of artful experiences you can have right in your own little neck of the woods.
Do you have other ideas? I’d love to hear them because this is what I will definitely be doing with my kiddos this summer!
Amanda Koonlaba, Ed. S. is an educator and educational consultant with over 12 years of experience teaching both visual art and regular education. Her career has been driven by the power of the arts to reach all learners. She is a published author and frequent speaker/presenter at education conferences. Amanda was named the Elementary Art Teacher of the Year for the state of Mississippi in 2016 and received the Arts Integration Service Award from the Mississippi Whole Schools Initiative (Mississippi Arts Commission) in 2015. She holds an Elementary and Middle Childhood Art certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Amanda is on a mission to ensure every student in America has access to a high-quality arts-based education. She blogs at SimpleArtClass.com