Books on StairsAs I look around my house six weeks into summer break, I see that I might need to reset my expectations for the summer. My living room floor is the permanent home to multiple Magna-tile “masterpieces” that my children have thoughtfully created; our steps hold between 10 and 30 library books at all times; and (less and less) hidden in the corner, there is a mountain of treasures accumulating for my classroom this fall: books, games, and useful items I acquire on our daily adventures. I vaguely remember a friend of mine laughing when I told her I would have the summer to “reset.” “Why is she laughing?” I had thought, naively.


As a parent and teacher, I’m a big believer that “more is caught than taught,” as the saying goes. I was lucky to have a great role model in my father, who continues to lead the way as an incredible grandfather to my two children. As children, my brother and I played football in the street with him and all the neighbors, had massive air hockey and ping-pong tournaments, and always found simple ways to laugh and have fun, no matter where we were or what the situation. Later on, I learned he worked a second job when he needed to (but didn’t burden us with this information), and as I began college, he started volunteering every Wednesday at the Cathedral Kitchen in Camden; it’s been almost twenty years now.   


Family Water PlaySo, the garage reorg will have to wait until they get older — it’s not more important than opportunities for creativity, building skills, or inspiring and encouraging a love for reading during our summer break. Cleaning the walls (oh, they really need it!) will not model for kids how essential it is to find your passion in life and follow it, how grateful we should be to be out in nature when we can, or how it’s possible for everyone to learn something new, every day (and how insanely awesome that is!).

Just like any other lesson I teach, maybe I should have really just thought about my objectives this summer, planned how to reach them, and then set realistic expectations for myself and my family. It turns out that my new summer break plan won’t be be too difficult to figure out — my dad has been showing me the way my whole life:

model what matters.  


Here are a few of the things we’ll be doing in August!

Fitzpatrick Family Favorite Activities
  • Swinging on swings at a shady park
  • Nighttime walks
  • Hunting for awesome books at libraries, book sales, and bookstores
  • Fishing
  • Building forts (and convincing parents to sleep in them!)
  • Dessert for dinner & movie night (bonus points for a projector); we love ice cream and water ice
  • Riding scooters
  • Getting wet — in baby pools, sprinklers, splash pads, or community pools — we’re not picky!

Shannon Fitzpatrick is a dedicated educator who models what matters for her K-1 students at Grayson.

Shannon Fitzpatrick with her students.

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