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8 Ways to Summer Smart With Your Kids

A time to reset, reprioritize, learn, and prepare.

Source: Victoria Borodinova, used with permission
Source: Victoria Borodinova, used with permission

As we transition to summer, parents should reset and reprioritize.

We are trying to get by as parents and educators day-by-day. We are hopeful summer programs will proceed but are now being sacked by hourly notifications of cancellations or significant modifications across the board.

Multiple “scenarios” are being considered and planned for the 2020-2021 academic year. Hybrid in-person and distance learning options. Synchronous and asynchronous classrooms. Staggered in-person attendance. School funding overhauls for PPE, transportation, mental health, lost learning, teacher training, food insecurity, tech availability. Some districts are reporting it’s just too expensive to reopen under such conditions when funding is being cut at the local, state, and federal levels.

So, what does this mean? Here is my ParentEd advice:

  1. KISS: Keep It Super Smart. Prioritize literacy and numeracy. These are the non-negotiables: Daily quiet reading time from a physical paperbound book and math content needs to be mastered to progress to the next level. If you’re concerned about science and social studies, read about them and create math word problems grounded in science. And, always ... cultivate intellectual curiosity. All that really means is to support their curiosity.
  2. Let your kids be bored. I give you permission. It breeds the gifts of curiosity, innovation, and independence. It may feel like sleep-training your baby or drop off at their first day of preschool. It hurts. But when you constantly solve for your kids and cater to their every need, it will ultimately hurt them. Parenting does hurt. Give them the space to develop some autonomy and agency. This is necessary in the real (and highly competitive) world into which we are thrusting them.
  3. Build your home community. It makes your world and the larger world a better place. Everyone chips in. And sustain these chores into our new normal. You’re giving your dishwashing, clothes washing, vacuuming, cooking kids the gift of #adulting. Let's make sure our dads and boys are chipping in with household duties as much as our moms and girls.
  4. Make a home base. Each child can have their own list of plans and goals. You should have a family list of plans and goals. Post them all. Hold each other accountable. Put up a calendar and honor it.
  5. Know your personal limitations. Share them. Be clear when you reach them. Take space. Plan ahead so you already know where that space is when you need it.
  6. Review all your options for this summer. Get creative. Individual and shared family reading lists. Arts, music, dance, drama. Physical fitness. Vocabulary flashcards. Records for laps in a pool. Learn script. Astronomy. Philosophy. Art History. Together, alone, in pairs.
  7. Plan through June 2021. Get ahead before the next shoe drops. While most schools and universities are planning through December 2020, I recommend a plan for the entire 2020-21 academic year. Be optimistic but realistic. Prepare.
  8. Family Rituals. Old and New. They may be forever changed. ⁣Our kids memorialize institutions, experiences, and places throughout their childhood that become a lasting part of their identity. As summer approaches and camps, fairs, festivals, vacations are canceled or possibly closed forever, be cognizant that your kids may experience a feeling of loss and withdrawal from the rituals of past years. Now is an opportunity to regenerate and create new practices.⁣ ⁣

Ultimately, we are our kids’ worlds right now. Research has shown that the greatest indicator of student success is not school but is family. So let’s make this a summer to remember for all the right reasons. Let’s embrace the opportunity and get back to basics—reestablish and rebuild a solid family foundation.

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