Summer – Friend of Foe?
For some of you, the beautiful sound of summer evokes a feeling of pure joy and bliss, like reuniting with a dear friend you haven’t seen for ages. It’s a time to unplug, be free from the confines of schedules and routines, and embrace the freedom that it brings. For others, the beginning of summer, especially this particular summer, elicits feelings of fear, dread, and sorrow at the thought of no routine or predictable structure, much like bumping into an old foe who stirs up all kinds of uncomfortable feelings. Whether you are viewing summer as friend or foe, it will no doubt be a summer like no other.
My advice, whether summer feels like friend or foe, is to try and find a comfortable new normal for you and your family. We often feel most out of sorts when we don’t feel like we have control, and when we can’t predict what is about to happen. These suggestions are designed to empower children to gain some control in a world that feels out of control right now and to be able to ‘see’ and predict how their summer will unfold. Work together as a family to come up with a functional and manageable routine. Allow for children’s voices and collaborate with them to make a plan. The more your child/ren feel empowered and feel part of the decision-making process, the more buy-in you will get during implementation. Document the planning and visually write/draw all the ideas. Use post-it notes, pictures or lists, but allow the child/ren to “see” and engage with the process. You can choose to use a calendar to mark which weeks you will do what. Maybe they are scheduled for a brief camp experience, or a visit to the cottage, or a week with grandparents. Make sure you visually show when those will be taking place. Then it’s time to brainstorm together what you will do on the weeks that are free. Themed ideas are always fun. Some at-home “mommy camp” themes I created with my kids when they were little, included Mitzvah Camp, Science Camp, Cooking Camp, Games Camp, Water Fun Camp, just to name a few. Each week we would brainstorm a list of activities to do for each theme. We made sure to list ideas that could be done independently, that we could do as a family, or that I could prep ahead and then let the kids do themselves. Before the Passover Break, in response to requests from families for support, I posted a “Tips for Passover Break” blog which offers the same kind of advice I’m suggesting now.
There are so many wonderful ideas circulating on how to create fun and meaningful activities for the family to do together. A friend of mine shared this calendar from Action for Happiness (click here) which I think is a brilliant way to focus on something positive every day for the month of July. What would be super fun, is if your child/ren created their own version of this for August. If they do, feel free to share it with me and I will pass it around to others.
Another easy idea is to create scavenger hunts and better yet, have your child/ren create scavenger hunts for each other. Here are a few I found from Natural Beach Living. Free Printable: Gratitude Scavenger Hunt for Kids from Natural Beach Living.
If you are looking to keep up with academic skills and continue enhancing the learning all summer, feel free to reengage with the distance learning schedules (found on the OJCS blogosphere), and fill in any activities or assignments your child did not have the opportunity to complete synchronously. Don’t forget there are art lessons available from Morah Shira, gym lessons posted from our Gym teachers, music lessons shared from Mr. G, and read alouds from Brigitte, all found on the distance learning schedules and also on those teachers’ blogs! Everything will continue to be accessible all summer long. You can email me over the summer if you or your child is struggling to keep busy and we can brainstorm ideas together. Hopefully. you will all find a friend in summer this year.