A parent asked me the other day, “Are you sending home a packet of work for the summer?” I paused and felt half-guilty as I replied, “No…”
You see, there are these packets you can create to send home so that parents can work with their child reviewing skills learned and preparing for what is up ahead.
This is so great, in theory. And maybe one day I’ll put one together. Although, the more I thought, the more I decided that this summer packet should be less addition practice and sight words and more…LIFE.
So take it or leave it…here’s my “Summer Packet.”
-Teach your child to tie their shoes. Find a fun trick! Watch a video! Give an incentive! Be persistent! Just make sure your child isn’t the one dragging their laces through the bathroom and cafeteria then asking the teacher to tie it.
-Keep bedtime in the routine. It may be a little later and there will be nights that bedtime doesn’t apply. But overall, if we keep our bodies in a routine with sleep, August won’t hit quite so hard.
-Choose a few family members and friends to write a letter to this summer. Ask your child to write in full sentences, ask questions and give details. Writing with a purpose makes it relevant and real for your child. Maybe someone will write them back! Include an envelope with return address and stamp to encourage that!
-Sit at the table and eat together. Really watch your child. Is he sitting on his knees, mouth wide open, food everywhere? This is how he looks in the cafeteria. Work on that.
-Encourage kindness. Find someone or several others that your child can do something simple to bring a smile. Deliver cookies, make a card, flowers, chores, a song…something simply for a smile.
-Don’t rush to the rescue. Hear me out. Our children need us. But they need us to let them learn to problem solve. If your child is in a situation that is frustrating, but not harmful (example: can’t put together a new toy, can’t open a lunchable, can’t decide which color shirt to wear) let them work it out! It’s crippling our children of the basic and necessary skill to problem solve and think through an issue…for themselves. Hang back…just a bit. They’ll be ok!
-Read TO your child. I can’t encourage reading enough! Please visit the library and make books a part of your summer days. Most importantly, let your child see you read- to yourself and to them. Let them hear your silly voices. Let them tell you the best parts and predict how it will end. We tell them all the time they must read, but are we showing them WE read?
-Put down your phone. On Mother’s Day, I create a booklet with my students. They answer questions all about their Moms, write sentences and draw pictures. One page is “Mom’s Favorite Things.” Can I tell you the top item colored first on most booklets?
We must look up from our screens and look at our children. They are growing so incredibly fast. We could spend this summer scrolling through strangers’ vacation pictures wishing we had their reality or we could be chasing our reality through the sprinkler in our own backyard.
-Rest. Be ok with not constantly going somewhere. Society, media, Facebook all have us believing we must seize the day and do it all. Our children have worked hard and they need to rest. If we keep them in perpetual motion through the summer, it will feel like a continuation of the chaos with less homework. Squeeze in the fun, but allow the time to rest. Boredom gives way to creativity. Rest renews our bodies and our minds for all the next school year has in store.