School is Out

And now it’s time to play, all summer long. Here’s Athena getting a head start on it, immediately after school let out on the last day. Some of you may remember the shirt Athena is wearing as being the one she wore for the first day of school as well; when I noted it to her, she responded, “You don’t think that’s an accident, do you?” I like that I have a clever child.

Today marks the end of the sixth grade, which for Athena is the first year of middle school but for me was the last year of elementary (middle school was 7th and 8th grade), so for me if not her this end of a school year has some extra special resonance of the “childhood’s end” variety. It made me both happy and sad that the first thing she asked to do when she got out of school was to have a few minutes to play on the playground with some friends. I said yes, of course. She should enjoy it while she can.

39 Comments on “School is Out”

  1. “And now it’s time to play, all summer long”

    Once, just once, I would like to experience that as an adult.

  2. My daughter finished eighth grade today, which effectively turns me into >shudder< the parent of a high-schooler. Yoicks.

  3. I say become a speech therapist who works in the schools…much less to do over the summer!!!!

  4. A friend said that the first thing she saw her daughter and friends doing after school was out was–playing school. I replied that they probably figured SOMEONE had to get it right.

  5. God I miss summer break. Every year, I want it so bad. Being an adult blows.

  6. Carl V. – I’d say become a politician at the Federal level. They get way wore vacation than teachers, get paid better, and have better health coverage.

  7. I’ll second the longing for 3 months of warm bliss – SO works with special ed kids so I have to hear how great it is to go biking or some other activity with no crowds during the week. ARG!

    My youngest just graduated college, talk about being old! Enjoy them while you can. All else being equal there will be some bumps and potholes during the teen years, particularly if you have a clever child. All 3 of mine were clever in different ways and sometime they make you wish for dull :)

  8. One word of advice: Buy a shotgun and a cleaning kit. Don’t need to shoot it, just have it out and be cleaning it when her boyfriends stop by ;)

  9. Hey, you can still play at the playground when you get older. You just have to take some kids with you for cover.

  10. Summer break seems longer now that I don’t get it. In Canada, break never started before June 21, and ended on the day after Labor Day. But that was 25 years ago now. When we had to walk uphill both ways… yada yada yada.

  11. My daughter finishes preschool Monday. I still find that hard to believe.

  12. Paul@10: You make being a Congressman sound pretty sweet, but I don’t want to have my “how to use the Internet responsibly” lobe removed.

    John, the end of sixth grade is the half-way hump of public school, so your feelings are natural. It’s a downhill slide to oblivion from here on out. Please try to enjoy it, or at least keep the panic to a minimum.

  13. John, I hope that the teen years treat Athena and your relationship gently as possible… I look forward to her first book tour, with her expose’ of growing up a Scalzi.

  14. When I grew up in the 1950’s in California, it was an elementary school, grades Kindergarten through 8th grade, then off to High School. When I was in 8th grade (1958) they opened a new 6-8 but for reasons I never understood my class stayed put. Huh? I always wondered what it would be like to have that extra layer between little kid school and grown-up (but not college) school.

    I hope your daughter has a terrific summer. She probably won’t get a lot of those summer off things, once she starts working at Cal Tech.

  15. In my observation (mostly of my mom’s various teaching jobs over the years): Middle School is almost always 6th-8th grades. Junior High, in contrast, is almost always 7th-9th.

  16. And here in blighty, the kids go back next week for the final six week term of the year. So, summer hols start late July for six weeks…

    Maybe you don’t get all the half term, easter breaks etc. that the UK do?

  17. #20: From my perspective, the main difference between “middle school” and “junior high” is one of vernacular. I started sixth grade in Chicago, where they called it “junior high”. At the end of the first semester, we moved to Houston, and it was called “intermediate (or middle) school”.

    The other difference, as Scalzi/posters have noted, is which grades actually make up junior high. Both my Chicago and Houston schools were 6-8, but I’ve noticed through the years that more and more districts in this area are opening up single-grade schools (fifth grade center, sixth grade center, etc). Some districts think “elementary” ends with sixth grade, and junior high is 7-8, some districts think junior high is 7-9 and HS is 10-12.

  18. #21: Does the UK have year-round school? That can make a difference as to when holidays are taken, and how long they last. When my mother taught elementary school music here in the States, for a couple of years they switched to a full-year curriculum. She decided she actually preferred year-round, because when she added it up she realized she was getting more time off than when she worked the nine-month schedule. So naturally, her district did away with year-round, because there wasn’t enough demand for it (i e the parents liked not having to drag their kids outta bed early in the morning for two or three months outta the year).

  19. Teachers, ah yes. My coworker tells me that he and his significant other has interesting talks about being a teacher. His significant other is a teacher of course. And the teacher says that he has it hard all year long with those kids and puts in tremendous overtime so the summer off is deserved. Of course my friend and I tell him him that he is full of it. He was even upset they had to make up 2 of the 5 snow days they had. The nerve…..
    They get at least 2 months off, must be a rough life.

  20. Wow… you guys get a long summer break. We still have 3 1/2 more weeks to go, although I wish the kids were out now.

    on the other hand if the kids were out now I would be able to get my pedicure next week…. hmmmmm

  21. @15 You beat me to it :-)

    I grew up in a district where Middle School was 4-5 (at the time, now 4-5-6) and Junior High was 6-7-8 (now 7-8 only), with High being 9-12. I think this arrangement had as much to do with the size and configuration of available buildings as anything else.

    Heck if I know what they do around here. Seems to be Elementary, High, and something in between, but not having kids I don’t know which grades go where. It doesn’t help that instead of Anytown Middle School it’s all Whatsisname School (after Somebody Whatsisname) and Some-Town Consolidated School (the product of Somewhereville and Anytown merging their school districts.)

  22. Comparing the two pictures, you can see how she’s grown… not a little girl anymore, definitely a tween.

  23. In Ohio you’re out of school already? Up here in Saskatchewan, our last day of school is on June 29th! What a rip-off.

  24. 6th grade also was the last year of elementary school for me –7th through 9th grade was junior high.

    BTW, your daughter is so beautiful. I know she hears that from you and your lovely wife all the time, but she should hear it from a stranger too. She’s beautiful. Keep using her image on your website. :)

  25. Carrie@28: I just sat through a psychometrics class that suggested that Canada’s longer school year is part of the reason our national IQ norm is 1.3 points higher than the USA’s. I guess there are some trade-offs.

  26. I had 7-8-9 as junior high, and 10-12 as high school. I’m inclined to think that psychologically that’s the best scheme for social learning, giving you two tries at the bottom of the ladder, two in the middle, and two on the top.

  27. GaryG #21,

    My son’s school is on the American “traditional calendar.” School starts around August 25 and ends June 10. There are three days off at Thanksgiving (late November), two weeks off at Christmas, and one week off for “Spring Break” in late March. Then, there are occasional single days off, maybe one a month. Students must attend school for 180 days.

    In many places, schools are shifting to “year round” schooling which is closer to the UK system: Four more-or-less equal terms of school with holidays between the terms. This is sometimes a response to crowding: By carefully subdividing the class, the school district can have some students at school while other are on holiday.

  28. The summer life as a teacher, which for many of us right now is trying to find a job for the next year due to budget cuts. Not many take the entire summer off either because despite popular belief, teachers are not paid for the time they do not work, hence many taking some kind of job.

    I’ve taught 7th grade John, you’re in for some interesting times :D

  29. My youngest just wrote her first letter home from her summer study-abroad in Moscow. God, I feel old.

  30. Not having any offspring of my own, I can’t comment on the speed of growth, so I’ll talk about playgrounds!

    You should take Athena and some of her friends to City Museum in St. Louis! Adult scale climbing rigs and ball pits! Never been myself, but it’s part of the epic midwest roadtrip I’m going to take one of these summers…

  31. And later this year she (and my daughter) become (shudder) teenagers!

    Hope all the brain cells don’t shut down from hormone rush.

  32. #30 – 0nly 1.3? Given what my fellow countrymen have been doing for the last 2 decades I would have guessed the difference would be more like 30.

  33. Understand how you’re feeling. 6th grade really is Childhood’s Last Hurrah.

    This Spring, my son finished up 8th grade (we have the same sort of 6th-8th middle school as y’all, and my “Jr. High” was also just 7th-8th). So he’s starting (gulp) High School this Fall. Luckily, our daughter starts Kindergarten at the same time, so we have a few, more years of enjoying childhood vicariously :)

  34. My ten year old cried on the last day of school. He didn’t want it to be over.

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