Different Personality in Summer?

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-06-2000
Different Personality in Summer?
22
Sat, 06-15-2013 - 9:46am

It's been a very long time since I posted on iVillage, but still see a few familiar names from the past!  They're not little kids anymore though, are they?!?

Wondering - do any of you notice a different personality in your kids in the summer, when the stress level is down?

We've noticed this with DD17 the last few summers.  I love her personality in the summer - so much more likely to laugh and smile, etc.

The stress level during the school year in our school system is really over the top.  Well, some of that comes from the classes she chooses - but she'd be unhappy without taking the upper level classes.  It's pretty much the norm to be spending 4-5 hours a night on school work.  I worry about burn out before they even GET to college!

She opted out of the second AP English class for her Senior year, and I am so glad she did
The summer work for that class is over the top, and I just didn't know how she was going to get it done with a 3 week trip to Europe touring with American Music Abroad, and a 2 week college road trip of visits later in the summer.  She still has summer homework for 4 other classes:  AP Chem, AP Calc BC, IB Spanish V, and AP Government.  That will be enough to cram in the few weeks of summer that she is actually home.  She's in her room right now, working away to finish some Chem work before leaving for her trip tomorrow.

I glad she gets a little time to actually relax this summer before jumping into an insane schedule Senior year (all the above, plus College Prep English, AP Physics B, AP Economics, Orchestra/Choir, PE)

I'm all for a good education and hard work - but wonder if the stress and expectation levels are like this everywhere now, or if it's just a byproduct of our community? 

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-06-2000
Tue, 06-18-2013 - 1:15pm

Mahopac....we are a lot alike! LOL

We do the choose an old series and watch the whole thing in the summer too!
Did Lost that way, did the first 6 seasons to catch up on Dr. Who that way last summer, this year we started in the series "Merlin".

We definitely travel every summer, and still do.  I guess I am more missing the spur of the moment local day trip type things that we used to do - we are a day trip away from New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington - - so can see and do almost anything in a day trip. Museums, exhibits, shows, etc.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-06-2000
Tue, 06-18-2013 - 1:22pm

Oh definitely, there's never a problem keeping busy.
The problem is more so many worthwhile, interesting things to do out there and only so many hours in the day so you have to pick and choose!

We're pretty much locked into the AP route at the traditional HS at this point.  Only one more year to go, and she definitely doesn't want to change things at this point - especially with it being her Senior year.

Honestly, I think things will be better when they are in college.
They come home in between semesters and are OFF - no work hanging over their heads.
I'm probably looking forward to that more than she is!

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-06-2000
Tue, 06-18-2013 - 1:22pm

Oh definitely, there's never a problem keeping busy.
The problem is more so many worthwhile, interesting things to do out there and only so many hours in the day so you have to pick and choose!

We're pretty much locked into the AP route at the traditional HS at this point.  Only one more year to go, and she definitely doesn't want to change things at this point - especially with it being her Senior year.

Honestly, I think things will be better when they are in college.
They come home in between semesters and are OFF - no work hanging over their heads.
I'm probably looking forward to that more than she is!

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-13-1999
Wed, 06-19-2013 - 1:07pm

The stress is everywhere.  The more highly educated the community, the more frenzied the pace of life and the perceived sense of competition.  Some kids thrive on this, finding it invigorating and motivating.  For them it's not negative stress.   For others, it is burdensome and an impediment.  If a teen is unhappy and isn't thriving under the competitive norm that the entire community seems to have adopted, the answer is simple: just say no.

High stress life is not an inevitable choice for the high achieving teen.  Ashmama and Turtletime both opted out and chose alternative, satisfying educational venues for two remarkable young women.   There are kids from our school who have elected to take a year studying outside the U.S. or to follow an independent study curriculum developed with mentors.   We know people who have elected to homeschool their teens and/or blend homeschooling with community college.   We know one family  who moved their kids from traditional high school to an arts boarding school to focus on music.   I'm convinced that there is no one path that is right or that leads to success.

To be clear the stress doesn't end in college.  It continues on unless the student makes a conscious choice (again) to opt out and follow her own path.   One of my girls found the school newspaper's elitist attitude so offputting that she chose instead to pursue internships off campus.   This was not the traditional choice but it ended up giving her the satisfying experience she wanted and a huge boost when it came time to seek permanent employment.

The critical difference in college is that the courses of study vary widely.  Unless a kid chooses a school or major with a strict core curriculum, there's less direct competition and sense of one-upmanship.

Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Wed, 06-19-2013 - 1:51pm

Agree with all that.  Really, one of the best things we can teach our offspring is the art of discernment:  to recognize that they have choices and how to make wise choices. Discernment is a concept I think of often as a follower of Jesuit spirituality, but it applies to everyone.

My three kids have had three very different educational experiences.  One went to Catholic high school, one went to our large public school, and one is starting at a tiny private school in the fall.  We made those decisions by first of all recognizing that we COULD make a decision.  We COULD reject the norm and do something else.

Teaching them that they don't have to do what "everyone" does - not because *they* are special, but because each individual is unique - opens up their minds and allows them to begin exercising good judgment early:  is this the right course of action? are these the right people in my life? am I thinking about this the best way possible, or is there another way?  Etc. etc.

I love hearing what my older ones are learning about themselves.  Last week my 21yo DS had an experience that made him realize he would rather spend his time/work/life with compassionate, kind people, even if the work is less interesting, than doing interesting intellectual work with people who don't care about others.  I love that he has recognized what kind of people are important to him, because that will always help him identify situations, groups, and individuals who are the right "fit" for him (and which aren't).

And it all started with an offer to send him to Catholic school. ;)  THE single best parenting decision I ever made.

Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Wed, 06-19-2013 - 1:55pm

Agree with all that.  Really, one of the best things we can teach our offspring is the art of discernment:  to recognize that they have choices and how to make wise choices. Discernment is a concept I think of often as a follower of Jesuit spirituality, but it applies to everyone.

My three kids have had three very different educational experiences.  One went to Catholic high school, one went to our large public school, and one is starting at a tiny private school in the fall.  We made those decisions by first of all recognizing that we COULD make a decision.  We COULD reject the norm and do something else.

Teaching them that they don't have to do what "everyone" does - not because *they* are special, but because each individual is unique - opens up their minds and allows them to begin exercising good judgment early:  is this the right course of action? are these the right people in my life? am I thinking about this the best way possible, or is there another way?  Etc. etc.

I love hearing what my older ones are learning about themselves.  Last week my 21yo DS had an experience that made him realize he would rather spend his time/work/life with compassionate, kind people, even if the work is less interesting, than doing interesting intellectual work with people who don't care about others.  I love that he has recognized what kind of people are important to him, because that will always help him identify situations, groups, and individuals who are the right "fit" for him (and which aren't).

And it all started with an offer to send him to Catholic school. ;)  THE single best parenting decision I ever made.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-01-2001
Thu, 06-20-2013 - 9:01am

"The more highly educated the community, the more frenzied the pace of life and the perceived sense of competition."

I always find comments like this interesting.  Our high school is one of the highest ranked in our state.  The community is very well educated.  Most of my dds friends have at least one parent who is an engineer (most with masters degrees), doctor, or lawyer.  Very few kids are living this frenzied life I hear about in other communities.

This year there were 29 kids (Of 284 in the class) who graduated with 4.0s.  The school doesn't weight grades so a 4.0 is the best possible.  Now this is an unusually large number, usually there are only 5 or so.  In this group their average ACT score was 32.  Most of these kids were taking lots of honors and AP classes.  They are heading to schools like Wake Forest, The University of Illinois, Purdue, Notre Dame, Case Western Reserve.  

Of this group, my dd#1 would consider more than half of them personal friends.  Six of them are among her very closest friends (one is her boyfriend).  I've known many of them since they were sixth graders.  The interesting thing in the group is that they weren't (for the most part) afraid to say things like "I'm not strong in English, so I think I'll take a regular class instead of an AP".  And no one looked down on them.  And while they kept fairly busy with activities most of them weren't going nuts thinking "I need to add one more that'll look good on the college application!"  The one who was the busiest with activities is so bright that the school work just wasn't challenging enough, so he filled his time with activities to learn time management.  

I wonder what makes our school different.  This group of 29 was generally very encouraging to one another (plus to the others in the class too).  When one of the 29 was struggling in AP Chemistry, two of the others offered to tutor her.

I see this in #2's class as well.  She is currently among the 4.0 students in her class.  They are quick to encourage one another.  They study together, but they are quicker to just enjoy each other's company.  They go to one another's events and cheer each other on.  Very few of them are feeling completely frazzled.  #2 is rarely stressed.  She has chosen to take mostly honors classes, but isn't afraid to say "I'm sticking with regular Spanish, I just want to get it DONE."  She's busy with activities but does them because she enjoys them, not because of the pressure to build a resume for colleges or to outdo anyone.  She's also not afraid to say "no" to something because it feels like "one more thing" and then stay home and read all weekend, or get together with a friend and spend the day baking.  So what makes our community different?  Why do we seem to have more balance?

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-06-1999
Thu, 06-20-2013 - 10:53am

We live in an affluent, well educated community. Cal Berkeley is a stones throw from us. Ds is a rising senior so the college frenzy has begun. Just not at our house, he  is a decent student only one AP class in subject area he is passionate about. He has a good group,of friends, extracurriculars he enjoys, and consistent solid service work. We have bouts of stress during the school year, but for the most part he is on a pretty even keel. We won't be applying to 10 colleges, only the 4 he is truly interested in and has a decent chance of being accepted to. I am confident he will develop into a productive member of adult society. The stress kids are putting on themselves today is insane, and don't kid yourself that they are not feeling pressure from us too. My husband went to no name schools for his undergrad and grad school and he holds his own everyday with graduates of Harvard, Stanford and Yale.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-13-1999
Thu, 06-20-2013 - 4:46pm

Ekmama, I think I want to move to wherever you live!  Not because I can't counsel my own kids to stay outside the fray or because they can't find at least some like-minded peers but because I very much like the sound of your school community. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-01-2001
Fri, 06-21-2013 - 1:15pm

I've been thinking about what makes this community different and I've thought of a few things.

One, after 8th and 9th grade and number of students choose to leave the school and go to a boarding school that focuses on math and science.  I think the loss of these particular students helps.  I recalled a story #1 shared after posting yesterday.  In her freshman biology class she had a classmate who checked her grades against everyone else's.  The teacher would post grades using student numbers instead of names.  When this classmate realized who it was who was constantly out scoring her she became quite upset and began to harass the other student.  It got so bad that the other student ask the teacher to white out his scores so the classmate couldn't see them.  Even that didn't stop her, she would take the sheet and hold it up to the light to see the scores.  I think the loss of students like this helps this community.

Two, up until fairly recently this was primarily a farming community.  The values of work hard first, but then play hard are firmly established in the school.

Three, many, many, many students have lived elsewhere, either overseas or just in other parts of the US.  Dispite living in what looks like, on the surface, a very vanilla Midwestern town, these kids have really big worlds.  I think this helps them maintain perspective.  

Four (and my father the engineering professor would love thisSmile), one of the major employers in the area is a global company (part of the reason for number 3) who hires many engineers.  Since engineering requires team work, creativity, flexible thinking, an expectation of excellence, and still the ability to say "close enough, the bridge won't fall down"; the engineer parents (I'd say a good third of all students have at least one enigineer parent) of the students are able to encourage this in their homes.  This plays over into the school environment.