Family prepares to go back to class

Special to her magazineAugust 1, 2013 

Like most families, Sergio Baltran and Liz Southwick had plenty of fun in the sun this summer -- when it wasn't raining, that is. They took a trip to Fort Myers and Miami, Florida, with their three children: Kaden, 7, Sienna, 5, and Kaleth, 18 months old. The family spent five days at the beach and taking the kids on outings. They also spent time with family while in South Florida.

While her husband works, Southwick takes the children to the water park at Idle Hour Park in Phenix City. "It's free, and it's fun for them to mingle with other kids," she said in a recent interview at her Columbus home.

The family also enjoys barbecuing with friends in the summer months, Southwick said.

But, while enjoying summer fun activities, the parents kept in mind that the older children would be going back to school Aug. 8, and they did what they could to avoid summer brain drain. Kaden will be in second grade, and Sienna is going into kindergarten, both at Fox Elementary School.

"We did the Aflac summer reading program at the (Columbus Public) library," Southwick said. "They read 10 books every week, and we submitted their lists to the library, and they got to pick from the treasure chest."

Even the baby had 10 books a week read to him.

The family has its own brain-sharpening tradition, which they call the "five-second game," Southwick said. While traveling in the car, they ask math or spelling questions and give the kids five seconds to answer them, she explained.

"We're trying to keep the kids' education going" during the summer, Southwick said, adding, "They love school. They can't wait to go back."

Southwick is a bargain shopper, so she bought school supplies as she saw things on sale. By mid-July, she already had her children's school supplies purchased except for paper towels and cleaning supplies.

She lamented that Fox students don't wear uniforms so she has to buy back-to-school clothes. She thinks uniforms would eliminate a lot of problems with comparing clothes and teasing.

The children, who had intently observed their parents' interview, expressed their eagerness to get back to school with refreshing enthusiasm.

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