Summer is here and many parents are concerned about their kids taking a break from their academic studies! Summer is a favorite time of the year for most kids because they get to have a much needed time out from the demands of school and can now look forward to having some "Fun in the sun."
It is very important for kids to have this break from their packed school schedules and academics and to have some down time. It is during this period that kids of all ages can make many valuable discoveries, learn about themselves and make independent choices. Kids can spend hours exploring their local playground; finally master the monkey bars without a time limit, or that great layup they always wanted to achieve. This is also a key opportunity to reconnect with old and new friends, spend relaxed time with your family and relatives (which could be good or bad) and maybe even discover a new passion. Our friends' teenage son loves photography- he uses the weeks before going to camp to grab his camera and explore the city to take pictures without adhering to the rules of a school assignment. Please do not under estimate the value of this unscheduled time for kids of all ages!
However, there should not be a break from academics altogether. Here are some things you can do to help your child relax, yet stay sharp for September:
Take a trip to your local bookstore or pull out the Kindle. Explore new titles for your child to read. Talk about how nice it is to be able to just read for pleasure! We like to choose books with our kids so every family member will have a favorite to bring to the beach or on the plane. Kids are great at following their parents' lead- if you are reading; it will be more likely that your child will pick up their own book. Share exciting parts of your book with your children, talk to them about characters in your book that you identify with and tell them why. Ask them about their books- what they like or don't like- to start a conversation!
Buy or create a summer journal for your kids- no matter what age. This is a place where your child can fill up the pages with rich summer memories or younger children can stick their own set of selected pictures. Encourage them to use a lot of details. This could revive their old memories when they reread their journals at a later date. This is also a wonderful tool to keep up with their writing skills in a fun important way- writing about what they know!
For older kids, who have summer math, reading and projects to complete, encourage them to spread their work over a period of time, as opposed to all at once. We put aside 20 to 30 minutes a day to have our kids work on their assignments before and after camp ends- reading and writing can happen during camp! When summer work is done in smaller increments over a longer period of time, it is less overwhelming for the child and a better "workout" for their minds!
In addition, please do not forget the value of spending the day at a local museum, traveling to different towns or cities, or even visiting a different part of your own city to discover different foods and cultures! For older kids, discussing the news, current events and recent elections is an informal way to enhance their personal knowledge and debate skills.
So...lazy days of summer should be filled with LOTS of relaxation, exploring and conversations as well as some reading, writing, math and projects. Always keeping in mind to value freedom and less structure for your children. Let your kids surprise you- they might have a whole new passion or expertise by the time September rolls around.
Have a great summer!