Rethinking Summer

Summertime is knocking at your door whether you’re ready for it or not! Some of you look forward to summer with no alarm clocks or schedules! Others of you dread summer with no alarm clocks or schedules! It is certainly a season unto itself.

The challenge with summer lies in the expectations each of us brings to it. The kids want to sleep in (or not, depending on their age) and play on electronics all day long (no matter their age)! The adults want to sleep in (or not, depending on their age) and play (uh hum…work…) on electronics all day long (without interruption)! And everyone wants to do what they want, when they want, with whom they want, as long as they want!

Now, this may seem like a no-brainer. So, what’s the big deal? The kids are gonna be off routine anyway, so why not just let them be. They deserve time off. It’s tempting to pencil in summer of “nothing.”

But we educated parents to know that is not necessarily the best. Fun and free time are certainly a must. It refreshes, relaxes, re-energizes, and revives creativity! But routines are good and learning shouldn’t take a back seat. At the very least maintaining educational strides over the past academic year is a goal worth achieving. Here’s how I approach the wide expanse of summer.

1. Reading is a fun priority! I believe kids should read or be read to a minimum of 30 minutes a day all summer long! Think about that. 30 minutes of reading a day through the three months of summer mean your child will read 45 hours! HOURS!! Just think of all the great vocabulary your child will acquire and the jumpstart your child will have once school resumes. Check out these compelling Scholastic stats on summer reading.

Reading can take the form of chapter books, audio books, comic books, computer sites with animated books, older kids reading to younger kids, or adults reading to them! If they’re going to be reading, they may as well be motivated by prizes so sign them up at your local library’s summer reading club or construct your own reward chart based on every 10 hours of reading. (Trust me, don’t do it based on books. That ends badly.)

2. I look for something fun for them to learn in a group setting. It’s good for them to practice getting along with other kids doing something outside the typical classroom setting. Social skills deserve a growth spurt too! Sometimes it’s soccer or chess or robotics or swim team or art class.

3. I give my child a chance to pursue a personal area of interest. Is your child an entrepreneur? Have them make something and figure out a place to sell it. Is your child interested in music? Sign them up for a few instrument or singing lessons. Is your child interested in a sport they know little about? Find a class through your local recreation department. Having an opportunity to learn a new skill without familiar peers around frees them up.

Now, those three I am fully committed to. Everything else is negotiable. Here’s the thorn in my side. Technology! What a nightmare! It offers so many amazing things but there are so many caveats as well. It’s addictive. It has to be monitored and overseen and regulated. I’m not sure how I’m going to approach it this summer…cell phones, kindles, laptops, oh my! Thank God we don’t have a gaming system…yet! Everything in moderation I suppose! Try telling that to your Minecraft addicted ten-year-old!

So good luck to you as you navigate your way through summertime! Look for those amazing activities out there in your community from internships, hands-on camps at big companies like IBM, college for kids classes at your community college, events at your library, experts teaching classes at your rec center, or teams that your child could participate in. They’re out there. You just have to find them. Don’t let chaos reign. Rethink your summer!

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