Here’s to a Simple, Successful Summer
Parents everywhere: this is your standing ovation! If there was ever a time to recognize the work that you do on behalf of your children, it would be now — after a year of unimaginable challenges. We’re ready to launch into summer, but wanted to take a moment to reflect on the things we achieved and the lessons we learned as parents and educators over this past year. While thinking back and looking forward to the warm weeks ahead, we realized a theme emerging from our conversation: keep it simple. As parents, we can take small but significant steps to help our children learn and thrive this summer.
Step 1: Keep doing what works
Families adapted to new ways of learning, playing, and being together during the pandemic, and many of these discoveries can be carried forward for a memorable summer. Keep playing the board games that sparked lessons in good sportsmanship and helped you learn about a whole new competitive side in your child. Continue cultivating that green thumb that resulted in home-grown vegetables — now’s the perfect season for your child to see what else can be brought to bloom. Bubble breaks remain essential. No matter the specific activity that you and your children discovered you enjoy together — keep doing it! The summer is the perfect opportunity to build on what you’ve created together over the past year.
Step 2: Focus on fun
There are so many ways that learning and fun can go hand-in-hand. Start by making a list with your children of all the things they can do in a day that doesn’t involve a screen. One of our long-time educators spent the winter watching MasterChef with her son; this summer, they set a goal to cook a recipe a week from the MasterChef Junior cookbook. Make a big deal out of going to the bookstore or library — a list of favorite books, followed by pizza and ice cream, makes the experience more memorable. The goal is simple: that children come to see learning as a part of life, and not something that stops in the summer. There will of course be days where summer homework is viewed, emphatically, as a drag by both parents and kids alike, but bringing some fun to the equation doesn’t need to be flashy; even a simple “beat-your-best-time” challenge can turn a worksheet into something more exciting.
Step 3: Read — and get your kids talking!
Believe it or not, you can be a bit “selfish” when it comes to reading with your children. Pick books that were your own childhood favorites; your kids will most likely love learning about why you liked these books so much. If you want to set your child up for success with phonics next school year, bring back your favorite nursery rhymes — one of the best things you can do is help them start to hear and notice the rhythm and relationship between words. Reading is one of the best activities for summer learning, especially if you use books to get your child talking — when they’re talking, they’re thinking and learning! There are a lot of questions you can use to prompt great discussions about books, but we suggest the most fundamental as your go-to: What are you thinking? Why are you thinking it? We’ve found that these questions pave the way for evidence-based critical thinking — and a lot of great conversations about our favorite books!
These three steps can help unlock fun and learning this summer, but if you’re looking for additional resources, be sure to check out the ones we’ve compiled here, and we’d love to have you join our mailing list to keep informed about future events.