As a teacher, my summer has always been a time for the three R's: recuperate, revitalize and relax. The school year is intense for teachers, parents and students, and summer offers a time to reflect on the ups and downs of the past school year as we learn from our experiences and gain perspective from the sunny distance of summer.
Some of my favorite summer activities including reading, long beach days and taking much-needed time to exercise physically and mentally, help me get ready for the next group of children needing my undivided attention six hours a day for 10 months. Making time for rediscovering who I am is a skill I have honed over the past 35 years teaching, but it isn't just an important adult skill -- children need this skill, too.
I have thought a lot about how we, as educators and parents, can give children some simple strategies for self-empowerment that can help them not only succeed in school, but find their creative interests, learn to take care of themselves and take time to do what they love each day.
As adults, we learn to visualize, or create a picture in our mind, of what we want: a new job, a relationship, where we want to live and how we want to look. We use a variety of techniques to achieve our goals, but they usually include writing goals, and the steps to achieve those goals. We learn to use both written and visual reminders to help us stay on track and we subscribe to some type of system to remain accountable.
If we want to lose weight, we might join an organization such as Weight Watchers, with a built-in system of accountability. f we are looking for a new job, we might use an employment agency or "head hunter," and if we are looking for love, there is a never-ending list of websites devoted to helping us find the perfect relationship.
Children have hopes and dreams too, but they don't always have a strategy for reaching their goals, so they need to be taught how to turn their dreams into reality. One way to do this is to guide children through the process of thinking about what they want -- creating a vision of it and the goals that will lead to the desired outcome. A parent can do this with some guidance and a plan and teachers can help students in their classes develop these life skills too. Taking a few minutes out of each day to give children an opportunity to think about what they want out of the day, the week, the school year and perhaps their life is something that will make a lasting impression on them and develop positive habits that they can carry with them for years.
As this school year quickly approaches, my wish for my students, their families, and myself is that we all take time to acknowledge what makes us happy and allow time in our day for those things. Work, play, dream and create.