The Blog

As a newspaper columnist, Nancy Devlin, Ph.D. has written over 700 articles on subjects related to education and parenting. Welcome to her Classroom!

Make This Summer Happy and Productive

School will soon be out and freedom for most children begins. Some parents may feel it is the end of their freedom if they do not plan ahead. For parents who work, a good summer camp is almost a necessity. Parents who do not have this option need to look for day programs. There usually are programs sponsored by local recreation departments, Girls/Boys Clubs, the local Y. Sign your child up now.

Summertime can be a happy, productive time or it can be destructive and boring. On the one hand, you want your child to enjoy the freedom from the highly structured school environment. On the other hand, you do not that free time to become a do-nothing, boring time. The do-nothing time usually is spent in front of the TV until even that becomes boring. While you do not want to program his summer so that there is no time for the child to think and plan for himself, you do not want him to miss out on things that require prior planning. You want him to be active and use his body at the same time you do not want him to injure himself. You want him to explore and be adventurous but you know that the world is not a safe place and you need to know where he is at all times.

There are some things you should avoid doing. Try not to make summer a continuation of what is done at school. Avoid workbooks which are passive. Try to initiate activities where skills learned in school are used in a practical way. Children need a background of experience in order to five meaning to what they learn in school. This background can acquired in the summer by means of trips to museums, the library, the park, the zoo, the supermarket. If you cannot go on these trips yourself, plan ahead by hiring a high school student to assist you.

High School students also can be wonderful to have available to play games with children. Card games help build language, social skills, visual memory, numerical sequence, computation and number concepts. There is also a wide selection of excellent board games. They help children learn to understand and follow rules, to take turns and to develop strategies. Disney has and is developing some computer games for children which stimulate creativity, among other skills. And the old stand bys, chess, checker and monopoly should not be forgotten.

Reading should be encouraged for enjoyment. Young children enjoy reading more if the books are one or two years below their measured reading level. When your child says there is nothing to do, have some interesting books on hand to offer to him. Also, help your child learn to use his reading skill as a tool. For example, plan a trip to the zoo. Give him books he can read which describe what he will see at the zoo. Plan the trip not only by reading about it but by looking at maps and judging the distances required to travel and the sights enroute.

Physical activity is important. During the school year, there is not enough time available for children to use their bodies. They should be running, jumping, bike riding, climbing, playing with the jump rope and keeping out doors as much as possible in the summer. This is one place you might need to be insistent and not let them vegetate at home.

Try getting them interested in a cause by giving a book like: “50 Simple Things Kids Can Do To Save the Earth” by the Earthworks Group. It is never too late to start giving children the message that they can make a difference.

Take time to enjoy your children. If you plan ahead, you may not find yourself saying before the summer is half over: “I can’t wait for the summer to be end and school to begin”.

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