My daughter recently finished up her parent-led preschool co-op group with a graduation party. As we watched the kids play in the little pool together I thought about all the great things I learned as a kid during the summer. During summer months, I think it is a healthy thing to ease up on structured academics, and learn in a different and very important way. Summer is the perfect time to explore the natural world, gain confidence by trying new things, build social and familial relationships and let imaginations run wild. Trips to visit relatives, swimming and sports activities, camping trips, nature walks and beach days, bug hunting or bird-watching at the park, learning a new skill or game, picnics, visiting a Zoo or Aquarium, and also important — combining the fresh knowledge from these new experiences together with imagination during play time. All of these things make summer a learning hot-house. As a child I liked collecting interesting rocks and putting them in cleaned out empty egg cartons. My mother would help me break some of them open with a large and heavy rock to see what the inside of the rock looked like, and many of them were very pretty. This led to me pretending I was an archeologist while digging in the dirt on the side of my parent’s home. I really hoped I would find some ancient bones! My daughter loves collecting shells when we go to the beach (we were warned by a ranger against collecting the enclosed type of shells that hermit crabs need for their homes, so now we stick to the flat and open shells).
Lots of great resources for parents and kids are available in most communities, such as summer reading programs through Public Libraries that offer prizes and incentives (yes, even for kids who are not yet reading, but are read to by parents), inexpensive activities or classes through City Recreation programs, and many communities have free outdoor concerts and performances for children during the summer. Calling the Parks and Recreation department in your community might give you some fun ideas. Just for fun, I will post a picture of myself as a young girl (I think about 7 years old) posing in my drill team outfit just before we walked /performed in our city’s 4th of July parade. This may not seem very educational to some parents, but hey — dancing in that parade in front of all those people took guts and lots of practice. ☺
I wish you and your tots a fun-filled summer of new experiences and happy memories.