Are you wondering how to get your children caught up during the summer?
Save your money! Avoid the hype of programs that pray on parents’ concerns about their children being behind because of Covid. Your children are not being left behind. education spirals because children forget 90% of what they learn. Just ask a child what happened in school today and you will understand what I am talking about. And that is one day, so imagine a whole summer. Educators know that and accommodate the loss.
Covid taught our children skills that they would not have gained by being in a traditional classroom. They are very valuable life skills they will need to thrive and become resilient. Children learned how to make a shift at a moment’s notice. They have learned how to entertain themselves without the help of others and how to be flexible. So they are not behind.
Your children have been through the most stressful time in education in one year, then at any time in my 66 years as a student and teacher.
We have spent the better part of the last 30 years trying to get kids ahead. My question is, “Ahead of what?” We have focused so much on the future, that children are not engaging in the present.
It was once believed that idle hands were the devil’s workshop, so we kept our children busy with one organized activity after another. Neuroscientists have proven that this statement is not the case. The truth is, innovation is often born when hands are idle and the brain is allowed to rest.
The focus this summer needs to be totally away from all devices, and replaced with being outside to enjoy “moments” or doing what they love. They need time to just pause and see what they hadn’t seen when they were moving so fast.
Children need the healthy sensory stimulation and the Vitamin D they can’t get from the internet. They need to be outdoors in order to grow into healthy successful individuals.
Dr. Zarr, a primary care physician and pediatrician, will consistently prescribe nature as part of his patient’s protocol. He states by doing so,”You have an improvement in mental health outcomes, increased focus, and concentration, and a decrease in behavioral problems in children.” It doesn’t matter what we are doing outside that brings these benefits. We tend to be more physical when we venture out into nature, and that adds to our well-being.
Here are some ideas for getting off the devices and into nature:
- Do art projects
- Lay on the lawn and watch clouds during the day and the starts at night. Both are guaranteed to change, so it is perfect for them to see what they can that they hadn’t seen the day before. The clouds often take shapes that excite children who take time to study them.
- Have them view nature and wonder about what they see.
- Encourage children to pick one place to sit every day and record in their journals what they saw each day that they hadn’t seen the day before. It’s much more meaningful to watch the stages of a frog or a seed develop in real time and not in fast forward.
- Jump on trampolines
- Skip or Jump rope
- Play Hotscotch- Parents Beware: If you haven’t played it in a long time, you will ache in places you forgot you had.
- Finger painting was my favorite activity with my grandchildren. They often made their bodies the canvas. It was the best sensory stimulating activity they could do.
- keep a journal of what they see and wonder about or what they have done during the day.
- Have them make a list of things they would like to do.
- Teach them to plan their day, include chores, wake up times, and bedtime.
- Go on bike rides.
- Grow your own vegetables or fruit. They will learn first hand about the process from seed to vegetable or fruit.
- Practice an instrument and create their own music.
- Read books together. Don’t worry about comprehension. Have them wonder about what the character will do next or have them make suggestions for different endings. Or ask them, what would happen if one the things in the story changed. It is exciting to hear so many different views of the story.
- Go to the beach or lake. Before we know it it will be too cold to go. This was my favorite sensory stimulating activity. The children would get the feel of different textures by digging in the sand. They were feeding their memory with images and experiences that later came out in their very descriptive writing. Take time to talk about how things feel, such as the sand, the waves, the wind, and the sun. Feed their adjective bank with words that add true meaning to them.
- Allow children to have unstructured games with friends without a ref. They need to learn how to come up with their own rules and learn to compromise. It was the jungle ball games we had that taught us in real life how to get along. Flashlight tag in the park was a favorite in my neigborhood.
- Try camping in your backyard.
- Walk the dog
- Fly a kite
- Make up their own games or create a unique board game. I had a former student show sold his game to a Hasbro
- Create new items out of Legos. Lego will pay for new ideas for kits. Encourage creating something new and not devised before. My great niece created an alligator that ate food and then pooped it out. Very original
- Turn trash into treasures
- Build with Amazon boxes
- Make forts
- Playing ball and with cars give children first hand experiences with the basic principles of physics
- Made mud pies
- Clean up a local park or beach
- Write imaginative ungraded or corrected stories- they will love these when they get older.
- Paint or draw
- Learn to play chess
- Play board games.
- Play card games
By allowing your children’s brains to take the summer off and fill them with meaningful and memorable sensory experiences, they will start school in the fall with a refreshed and ready brain.