In just a couple of weeks, most schools will be out for the summer! Are you ready? What does summer mean for you? Summer generally entails having children home, being busy with outdoor activities, family vacations, gardening, change of schedules and then preparing for new fall experiences.
My attention has been drawn lately, to numerous articles on preparing for summer ~ how to keep your children busy, how to fill up the time in a day, or how to adjust to summer schedules. Adjusting to summer can be challenging for parents and children alike. Keeping structure, consistency and safety in check as you balance activities to maintain learning, keep children healthy, fit and involved can be tricky. Our schools and communities offer wonderful recreational and educational opportunities for children throughout the summer. Children have the chance to participate in lessons, camps, reading programs, theaters, trips, fairs, sports and numerous other activities. There are plenty of events to choose from.
Keep in mind though, that summer vacation is also about rest and relaxation and quality time with parents. Many calm, often child-driven activities, allow parents and children to engage as well as providing social, emotional and academic development for a child. When children run through a sprinkler, play in a puddle or bucket of water, or swim, the sensation of water provides a soothing and calming experience and stimulates a child’s senses. Any sensory experiences (touching, smelling, hearing, tasting and seeing) stimulates brain activity. Children, from birth, begin to learn about their world through their senses. With continued opportunity to engage their senses, children experience life more fully, build awareness, sensitivity, develop their imagination and live to their fullest potential. In the long run, you may be helping your child improve academic achievement by teaching him/her to tune into all sensory aspects of an activity.
Minnesota Learning Resource Center has gathered research that shows that simple movement can anchor learning. Balancing on a log encourages balance and body awareness, jumping on a trampoline or in one spot, can stimulate muscles, joints, ligaments, bones and tendons, all helping a child learn to become more aware of their body, leading to a greater power to sit still and remain seated. Helicopter spins stimulate the same part of the brain that popular impulse control medications stimulate, producing a calmer, more focused child. Using squeeze bottles around the house to do chores, cutting thin sticks or weeds with garden scissors or squeezing cookie dough can all build hand strength for proper writing techniques. (S.M.A.R.T. program). Such education within simple activities!
So, when you’re looking for ways to ‘fill up’ your days, reconsider, make some time to be present, enjoy and let your child show you some fun activities. You’ll be offering yourself and your child a great service! Enjoy your summer!