Summer is my absolute favorite time of year and I’ve always thought about it as the season of opportunity for kids. In summer, kids no longer have the social and academic pressures that they have been dealing with during the school year which leaves room for growth and development in other areas. Meaning, just like when we have a lot on our plate at work we might feel overloaded and have little mental and emotional space for other things, the same is very true for kids. Even if our kids enjoy school, their brain can only focus on growth in so many areas at a time and once summer arrives, it provides a new opportunity for kids to make strides in areas that might have felt overwhelming to them during the school year.
However, to be clear, this isn’t to say that summer has to be focused on pushing our kids to learn more and reach goals all summer long. Summer is also a wonderful time to allow kids to simply be kids. To allow for relaxation, lazy days and even boredom where kids discover the fun of building a fort out of whatever they can find at home or simply running though the sprinklers in the backyard.
The beauty and magic of summer is that it can easily provide for both. It is such a unique time where kids can get back to the business of just being kids while also having unpressured time to explore, identify and develop strengths and passions, reach new developmental milestones and become more confident, independent and self-sufficient.
With that in mind, here are a few questions that can be helpful to reflect on as we enter this special season of summer.
1. What is one developmental milestone that I would like my child to reach this summer?
Summer is a great time for kids to learn how to tie their shoes, ride a bike, swim, etc. If kids were resistant to learning any of these things during the school year their brains might just be ready to take on a new challenge now that the pressure of school is off.
2. Does my child already have a passion? If yes, what can I do this summer to help nurture it? If no, what can I do this summer to help my child explore possible areas of interest?
There is nothing like finding that one true thing we are passionate about. Discovering our passions and spending time on them is a great way to build confidence and during challenging times in our life, having that area of interest to turn to can provide a type of comfort and security that we might not get anywhere else.
3. What is one thing that I am doing for my child today that he/she could be doing for him/herself?
This can be a really powerful question for parents to ask themselves. While kids may appreciate having us do things for them, eventually these positive feelings turn to feelings of incompetence and inadequacy. One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is to help them to develop independence. Summer is a great time for kids to learn how to make their beds, load the dishwasher, make breakfast and help with other household responsibilities.
4. Are there any traditions that I want to start with my child this summer?
Research shows that there is incredible value in family traditions. Traditions bond family members to one another and gives all members routines and rituals to look forward to. Most importantly, traditions give children a sense of identity and help them to feel grounded and secure in a life full of continuous changes.
5. What is one thing I can do for myself this summer to practice and model self-care?
When we are depleted we are no good to others. Summer is not just for kids, it is for us too. Before it slips through our fingers and we find ourselves buying back to school supplies, let’s be sure to plan some fun for ourselves this summer so that our kids can see that adults are important people in the family unit too who need to take care of themselves so that they can take care of others.
Wishing you all your best summer yet!
“Summer, after all, is a time when wonderful things can happen. For those few months, you’re not required to be who everyone thinks you are, and that cut-grass smell in the air and the chance to dive into the deep end of a pool give you a courage you don’t have the rest of the year. You can be grateful and easy, with no eyes on you, and no past. Summer just opens the door and lets you out.”