Summer Is Coming! Will You and Your Kids Be Ready?

Summer Is Coming! Will You and Your Kids Be Ready?

Summer Is Coming! Will You and Your Kids Be Ready?

Kids have been waiting eagerly for summer—and rightfully so. It should be a time of creative, playful, happy discovery. And, it’s definitely not too early for parents to be wondering, “How can we make this the best summer ever?” Here are some tips.

Put aside scholarly pursuits!?!? Yes, it’s okay to do that.

It’s true that intellectual focus is important for achievement and personal fulfillment, however it’s also vitally important for kids to engage in creative exploration, imaginative play, and invention. Recreational, physical, and creative activities (including devising and playing new games, sharing ideas—and then figuring out what to do next), are educational opportunities in their own right, and are the stuff of exciting new experiences and adventures. Children who are active in these ways are much more likely to take ownership of their own learning, throughout the summer months, and beyond…

Here are ten practical suggestions for parents who want to help their kids have the best summer ever.

1.   Be accepting of your children’s changing interests. Encourage them to take a stab at new, unique, or challenging activities that they’re unsure about trying or that they aspire toward but can’t seem to devote time to during the school year.

2.   Get an early start on acquiring the stuff you need. Co-create a plan to get the best deals possible on some of the provisions you may want to have on hand, such as camping gear, sports equipment, or art supplies. Think: are there any unusual supplies or materials that might augment their creative impulses?

3.   Support kids’ autonomy. The world is full of wondrous places, people, and things. Spend time discussing the possibilities with children, empowering them to be active in deciding what they’d like to do, where they’d like to go, or whom they’d like to visit. What can you facilitate, and what you might check out together?

4.   Encourage children’s creativity. Help them to stretch their curiosity, make inquiries, and welcome every chance to be free-spirited and imaginative. They can start by considering how to build on what they already know, by brainstorming with you and others, letting their minds wander, and thinking in different and unexpected ways.

5.   Be available and pay attention. Observe, listen, and respond. Be attuned to what matters to your children. Reading? Swimming? Community-based involvement or volunteering? Team sports? Family get-togethers? Talk about how to make ample time for these pursuits over the summer. Anticipate and take into account factors such as financial constraints, scheduling logistics, or other matters that may require some juggling.

6.   Set aside time to have fun together! Playfulness enhances well-being—for adults, too. Plan to have treasure hunts, go star gazing, construct a fort, chase bubbles, build and fly kites, set up a garage sale—whatever strikes a passion. Help kids appreciate the splendor of natural settings including beaches, farms, forests, and conservation areas—and the many surprises to be found therein.

7.   Emphasize the importance of physical activity. Encourage kids to stay active—preferably outdoors. This leads to better health and productivity. Model an energetic lifestyle all year long, and explore new ways to be energetic during the summer.

8.   Keep a manageable pace. Summer can quickly become over-programmed and jam-packed. Avoid overscheduling. Help kids learn to prioritize, and to decide which sports, arts, practice sessions, books, or other pursuits are must-dos. And, be mindful that summer is a break time, so be sure to leave plenty of time for rest and daydreaming. 

9.   Tech-down. Kids have fewer academic responsibilities over the summer months so it may be tempting for them to want to spend more time gaming, or parked in front of a screen or a device. Moderation and balance are key. Work out together (preferably in advance), what’s fair and realistic, setting limits, and chatting about how best to adhere to them.

10.  Maintain some consistency and routines. Children function best when there’s stability and guidance, especially during times of transition. As they move from school days into summer, and back again to the more rigorous demands of school, try to retain the natural rhythms of family life and the daily dynamic. Changes are inevitable (and present opportunities for kids to learn about adaptation and resilience), but be sure to offer supports and buffers as needed.

Help children make the most of the upcoming summer months by sharing ideas now about how to spark curiosity and creativity. Support kids’ interests in physical, artistic, or other areas, and encourage them to participate in new and appropriately challenging experiences, while ensuring that there will also be adequate down-time. Discuss the options for maximum pleasure, plan together, and then enjoy the times ahead!

Related Resources:

Beyond Intelligence: Secrets for Raising Happily Productive Kids by Dona Matthews and Joanne Foster (House of Anansi, 2014)

About children's playtime:

6 Ways To Protect Our Child's Playtime by Andrea Nair 

About being active:

Sitting Can Drain Brain Power and Stifle Creativity by Christopher Bergland

For Smarter, Happier, Healthier Kids, Keep Moving! by Dona Matthews Ph.D.

About game-playing:

Young Children and Game-Playing: Ten Suggestions for Parents and Care-Givers by Joanne Foster, EdD

About summertime fun:

Need Summer Plans? 10 Teacher-Approved Summer Activities by Erin Chawla

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