School has started up now, at least for the Kent City Schools, and Kent State University begins next week. With the beginning of school, we mark the unofficial ending of summer, and getting ready for colder weather (but not until after a nice Indian Summer, hopefully). There's still plenty of fun to be had in the cooler weather, like bike ride to Beckwith's for some apples, but with school, homework, and shortened daylight, there is definitely less time to have all this fun. Having less time together, if we're being honest, has positives as well as negatives. Sure, you miss your kids, and your kids miss you, but it also means that your child gets more time to interact with peers and adults other than their parents, which lets them grow into their own individual and discover their independence. Unless you're perfect, there's always going to be something of value that someone else may be able to teach better than you do. Frankly, my son probably never would have learned patience from me, or at least not nearly as quickly as I would have liked.
All joking aside, with the structure and limitations brought on by the school year, it's important to make sure that your time together as a family is quality time, right? Luckily, late August through October has some great opportunities for quality time together, whether as a family, a couple, or you and your shadow. Just because there's less daylight, doesn't mean there's less to do in Northeast Ohio. Obviously, there are all the great school-related activities, including sports, music, theater, and art. Friday night football games are surely an autumn tradition, even if nothing else put on by the district interests you. Add to that the programming by the university, there's even more chance to find something to do, and often for little or no cost.
Speaking of Kent State, fall is the time for the folk festival, with its shining stars of folk music and small town buskers coming together to provide a wide range of sounds. There's still one last outdoor movie sponsored by Standing Rock Cultural Arts and Downtown Innovative Community Events. On August 31st, there's a Twilight Zone Marathon following a short play by the students at Beyond Gravity dance camp from this summer (no spoilers, but I hear there are space aliens and princesses). The Kent Stage has some amazing acts outside of the folk festival offerings, as well. If you haven't yet, make sure to do some tubing, canoeing, or kayaking down the river, and take in a movie at the drive-in. As always, there are the various parks each with their own character, the Kent Historical Society and historical plaques around town, the library, and your neighbors, who can most likely tell you all kinds of things you didn't know, if you just have a chat with them.
There are a couple of points in all this talk of activities and fun. The first is that there are easily a thousand great things to do in Kent and to love about Kent. The second is that even with school in session, education isn't limited to the classroom, and it's certainly not limited to those still in school- there is always something new to learn, and new ways to learn, and have fun at the same time. Finally, getting out, having a good time with the family, and making time to be together without the TV, video games, stereo, and other distractions, you teach everyone a very important lesson- that they matter. That lesson is the same no matter whom you are spending time with. Hopefully, that's a lesson anyone- parent, child, grandparent, or friend- can take home and share with the people they love to see, because we never know when we won't have that chance again.
What about you? How do you like to spend your spare time? How do you show others that you care about them? What's your favorite local activity?