October 1, 2014

Kids In the Canyon: The Well-Rounded Summer

 

Summer is a special time for children and a balanced summer can be both fun and productive. In my book, “How to Have the Best Super-Duper School Year Ever!” I talk about creating a balanced day for your child, and the summer is a perfect time to create that habit. The four areas I encourage parents and children to include in each day are school, home/play, creativity, and self-care.

Summer Learning—School is out for the summer, but that doesn’t mean that children can’t continue to learn. Summer is the perfect time to encourage reading for pleasure and local libraries have children’s Summer Reading Programs that encourage children to keep track of the books they read, earning prizes in the process and encouraging children to love and use the library. Walking into the cool world of books on a hot summer day is an oasis for children and their parents too. Often the library offers programs that include arts and crafts related to a book or theme. Keeping a summer journal can establish a writing habit. Children can write about what they do each day, a trip taken or just their thoughts. Some children enjoy writing stories in a journal. Keeping a private journal can be the beginning of a lifelong outlet that many people enjoy. Purchase an inexpensive journal, some colored pens or pencils and stickers for embellishment. Children can draw and write about their summer.

Home/Play—Lazy summer days are perfect for playing at home, both indoors and outdoors. Without the time constraints of the normal school day, children have more time to create, explore and investigate what interests them. It is fun for children to make a lemonade stand, planning the stand, making the lemonade and even sitting waiting for customers can be a whole day activity. Children love to collect things outdoors and investigate with binoculars and magnifying glasses.

They enjoy building forts and clubhouses and can happily spend hours engrossed in imaginative play (How about a Magic Treehouse-themed clubhouse where children can read their “Magic Treehouse” books?).

Hot summer days are perfect for playing in water, swimming in pools, sliding on Slip n’ Slides and blowing bubbles. Practicing roller-skating, bike riding, skateboarding, hula hooping and jump roping are great summer activities that have remained popular. Summer is a great time to improve in a sport by practicing shooting hoops at home or playing catch.

Creativity—Summertime is a perfect time to try activities that your child might want to continue throughout the school year. Often lessons are offered in short six-week sessions and sometimes in two-week trial classes. It is a great time to try dance, gymnastics, aerial, music and art classes. Children can learn to try different activities without the commitment of a long session and without the distraction of school. Children can improve their skills by signing up for summer little league teams. Often ice-skating rinks offer summer group lessons and an ice rink is a great alternative to a sweltering summer day. Creative pursuits require a big time commitment in order to master the art and often children don’t realize they aren’t interested until a lot of time and money has been spent. A summer trial can be a short introduction to test interest in a creative area without making a huge commitment. There are different dance classes such as ballet, hip-hop, tap dance, jazz and modern dance that are usually available and allowing an aspiring dancer to attend a dance camp that samples a variety of techniques is one way to determine both interest and talent. There are similar opportunities for the dramatic arts such as the Theatricum Botanicum, where children can attend Shakespeare Camp to learn stage fencing, costuming, acting and singing. The camp ends with a performance for friends and families where all children perform what they’ve learned.

Self-Care—Allowing children the time to take care of their emotional and spiritual selves is an important gift parents can give to their children in the summer. Often the school year is so filled with school projects, homework and activities, children have very little “down” time to indulge in daydreaming. Fantasizing and daydreaming play an important role in the development of children because it allows them to imagine life scenarios, to work out problems and just to imagine possibilities. Often when we daydream and allow our brain to relax, new, creative ideas enter and we feel inspired. For children, the thoughts that flow in during these relaxed times can lead to interests, ideas and even areas they might investigate further in the future.

Summertime can be a welcome change for both parents and children. Both enjoy the change in schedule and obligations, the opportunities to try new things, to have new experiences, the chance to spend more time together and a break from the school year to recharge and rejuvenate.

If you help your child create a balanced summer, you might get the nice surprise of a little more balance in your own life.

For questions or comments, please send e-mail at amyweisberg@completeteach.com, with “Ask Amy” in the subject line. I would love both feedback and questions!