As the school year ends the children are delighted with their new freedom. Life is filled with the warm sun shining down on us all. It is as if a burden of dark and cold has been lifted. It is time to be out, to shed clothes and shoes…to really feel the earth and grass on bare feet and connect with the light of the sun and stars. It is summer. Children have all the time in the world!
We parents are delighted when our children are happy and resilient. Children are more patient, tolerant, flexible, and happy when their life flows rhythmically. Rhythm isn’t a schedule. Schedules are goal oriented. Rhythm is life oriented. It is ebb and flow, again and again and again… with little variations on the way.
Follow this recipe to create your summer rhythm: repeating days, weeks, and traditions to make the summer season full, rich, and memorable. Even those of us who work can create days and weeks that have that summer feel.
*Take a few activities you love and that make it feel like summer such as:
Rolling in the grass, riding bikes, jump rope, swinging…
Swimming, grilling, working in the garden, blowing bubbles…
Walking to the park/lake/pool/creek, natural places to wade/play/build a dam
Concert in the park, camping in the back yard, hiking, making/eating popsicles…
Camping trip, hiking, visiting Grandma and Grandpa for a week, some summer camp days
Decide if these are daily, weekly, or seasonal activities…
*Add in daily/weekly activities such as chores that need to be done, grocery shopping, laundry, food prep, cleaning house, … Your children are such capable human beings. It is healthy for them to participate in the life of the family. It can even be a disservice to a child to always have things done for them.
* Downtime to do nothing! …Find beautiful stones and four-leaf clovers, Give your children time to breathe (and yourself too)! Give them the gift of time to get “bored”. It is actually healthy for your child to not know what to do. It takes an inner strength of will to pull one’s self out of that seemingly empty place. What a gift when the creative juices start flowing! How empowering!
*Combine and Alternate
Inside time/ outside time
Loud times /quiet times
Silly times/focused times = breathing in and out…breathing is healthy!
Regular meal times!
Sleep time: Kinder children still need to get those same 10-12 hours sleep each night and a nap/quiet time in the afternoon. Even on vacations children (young and old) need rhythm and sleep… and the adults too!
So, give your children time to feel the warmth of the sun on their skin, see the dust sparkle in the sunlight, smell new mown grass, hear the insects hum as they work…and breathe your days in and out… enjoy your summertime.
As the summer months approach, the long days of summer seem like a dream come true. But after the first few weeks, many families struggle to find rewarding things to do with their children. Of course there are wide range of camps available both at WSA and throughout the community but what else is there to do? Here are some fun, easy, and inexpensive ways to keep busy.
1. Become an investigative reporter – with a camera, students can take pictures of the world around them and make up stories to go with their pictures.
2. Gather up old greeting cards and create puzzles or collages.
3. Have your child make an obstacle course in the backyard and have the family take turns going through it. Who can complete the course in the fastest time?
4. Make a terrarium.
5. Find a place to volunteer with your child.
6. Invent board games
7. Explore making paper airplanes.
8. Create a sculpture with recyclable materials
9. Stargazing & story telling
10. Skip stones at the river
11. See a Shakespeare Play
12. Learn how to paddle a canoe
13. Hang and monitor a bird feeder
14. Celebrate a summer holiday (even if you make up your own)
15. Make Homemade Ice Cream!
1. Encourage children to take on responsibility in areas of interest to them. (Volunteer at a veterinarian’s office, senior center or theatre.)
2. Physically challenge your children with activities like Outward Bound, hiking, white water rafting, rock climbing, water skiing or horseback riding.
3. Take them on an adventure with a purpose, i.e., not just a hike, but a hike to find the perfect camp site; not just a bike ride, but a bike ride to a lake for a swim.
4. Give them a job that will teach them to master a new skill (knot tying, bike repair, planning, shopping and preparing for a weekly dinner, building a camp fire, laying a stone path, tending a garden). Practical work will help them feel more competent.
5. Build a fort, shelter or tree house with your child.
6. Visit or volunteer on a farm (interactions with large animals help children learn how to adapt to another being’s needs).
7. Allow time for boredom. Let your child arrive at their own ideas for an activity, using imagination and initiative.
Often children have issues with focus and persistence in the face of obstacles. Encourage your child with activities such as these to help build their will, patience, motor skills, and sense of discipline.
This article originally appeared in the June 2011 issue of the Garden Breeze Newsletter of the Waldorf School of Atlanta.