For adults, summer is little more than a sunny, two-month blur between the end of the school year and Labor Day. But for children – and those of us who remember the summers of our childhood – it’s a season to enjoy more than all others.
Whether you have a family vacation planned, or whether you intend to just kick back on weekends, this summer offers all New Jerseyans with school-age children the opportunity to reconnect outside the day-to-day stress of work and school life.
Summer is an opportunity to do things with your children at a slower pace. Not only will you be more relaxed, but you’ll find yourself more closely engaged with your children.
Of course, learning never takes a vacation. Rather than let reading skills stagnate, students are encouraged to make reading a regular leisure-time activity. Adults should do the same, while setting a good example.
Here are some other good ideas for keeping learning front and center during the summer months:
- Continue to visit the public library for books, recordings, or special children’s programs. You might be surprised at what’s offered.
- If you take day trips or vacations, spend time at the public library researching – or surfing the Internet at home – before you head out, to learn more about the places you’ll see. Increased awareness of geography, culture, and economics will be part of your itinerary.
- Along the same lines, visit historical sites – either nearby or within a day’s drive – to learn more about New Jersey and America. A little bit of searching on the Internet or in the library will yield a large number of choices.
- Visits to museums, zoos, and botanical gardens are equally enjoyable, depending on your child’s interests.
- Encourage children of all ages to write letters – that’s right, letters, the lost art form – to friends and relatives. In addition to keeping writing skills sharp, letters are a wonderfully personal way to stay in touch with people.
- When it rains, try not to make a trip to the video store your first option. Board games, card games, and jigsaw puzzles are great ways to spend enjoyable time together. You can go through old photos and make albums. View old videotapes of family get-togethers. Prepare an indoor picnic, or just cook dinner together.
- Perhaps most importantly, try to be active whenever possible. Summer is an outdoor season, and walks, hikes, trips to the shore or the mountains, and sporting events are all wonderful ways to enjoy time with children.
Whatever you do with your children, try to make it enjoyable. The school year is a frenetic time, with homework, sports, extracurricular activities, and other demands making it all but impossible to share simple fun with your children.
Like childhood itself, summer is but a fleeting moment in time, and September will come soon enough. Until then, celebrate the joy of summer with your child.