by Lauralee Moss
Summer holds a mystical feeling for young minds. Children look forward to it all school year, almost as the ultimate goal. Preparations for summer are intense, with camps, vacations and late-night ball games. All the sparkle that movies and stories try to encompass surrounding summer truly lives in the minds of small children.
When students return to school with warm summer weather outside the walls of their classrooms, many daydream of swimming, biking and that overall freedom from summer. Parents typically foresee this struggle to focus or fully engage with school and persuade children with enticements such as new book bags, clothing and fun school supplies. Prepping students for the school year helps, as does communicating with your child that changes from a life centered on fun to one on discipline and work is difficult. Acknowledging the situation and then easing the adjustment for them when it approaches will make the transition to the school year easier.
Spend time outdoors
Part of what makes sitting at a desk while the sun beats down so aggravating is that outdoors is incredibly pleasant, what with nature talking and fresh air blowing. Encourage outside exercise for as long as the weather allows. After school, play ball with your child or ride a quick bike path. Choose the outside activity before the school day so your student can concentrate on schoolwork since she knows she will play outdoors later.
Students often learn best when their bodies move, so utilize the sunny weather while possible and do homework outside. Take vocabulary lists on a walk. Memorize math formulas while pumping legs on a swing. Practice spelling words with sidewalk chalk. At the very least, sit on the back deck and read from the textbook together.
Send summer out in style
Students miss summer activities, causing them to longingly gaze outside from inside school. Communicate with your child that you want to continue frequenting summer hotspots, only in small durations. Make a list of most-missed summer spots. Fill your calendar with appointments to visit them in shorter trips, say the park or a bike trail on the way home from school.
If your children hold onto memories of churning homemade ice cream or napping in the hammock, try to accommodate those activities too—perhaps on the weekend. Before chilly and shorter nights settle, utilize the evening to soak up warm weather. Grill out when possible, or prepare summer favorites a few more times and picnic.
If your local pool is closed, take advantage of stores' clearance sections and buy a larger blow-up pool. Serve your child and friends fun slushies "poolside" at a bon voyage to summer party. Ease your child away from summer activities by wrapping up the season with a few favorites or twists on much-loved doings.
Look forward to fall
Remind your child of special summer moments by framing a few pictures. Create a scrapbook or online memory book as warm weather comes to a close. Spend some time remembering summer fun, even if it is telling silly stories over after-school snacks. As you and your child converse, remind him of what the school year brings: funny moments from friends and interesting class discussions.
Celebrate the upcoming atmosphere of cooler weather. Just as children get anxious about swim lessons and baseball games, they can look forward to apple cider and pumpkins as well. Acknowledge that although the still warm weather tempts them, other cooler and beloved activities are a few weeks within reach. Incorporate life lessons from the summer. Maybe friendships grew stronger or he learned a new skill over summer break; he can now apply that to his next adventure.
Keep reaffirming the goal
Children need to learn at school and the ultimate goal is to have a successful school year. Communicate that lamenting over gone summer vacations is part of growing up. Your children will appreciate your recognition of the situation and efforts to enjoy the tip-end of summer weather. Reminisce about the fun summer adventures but don't dwell on them. Connect them to upcoming sleepovers, birthdays and activities.
Celebrating summer a few more times while communicating compassion and support will appease students as they study inside - with the sun shining outside.
Lauralee Moss, M.A., teaches high school language arts and standardized testing review courses. She lives in Illinois with her husband and two children.
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