The Best Way for Kids to Prepare Over Summer Break is to…..

Summer break is… almost here? I’m not sure how the weather is where you are, but we seem to be having a very late spring here! Either way, school will be out before we know it. 

That means parents and teachers will be hit soon with ads all over the internet from programs boasting about how great their summer workbook is for kids. Or an online curriculum they can follow through the summer to be “second-grade ready!”

But do you know what these students need over summer break? 

They need to play. Like, REALLY play. Not structured “Let’s add a manipulative to make it seem fun and call it play!” No. They need unstructured, free time to immerse themselves in a world of play. 

They need access to good literature. This means books they might find interesting or want to read, and this also means adults or older kids that read to them. Pack away the reading charts and trackers, just pull out some books and let it come naturally. 

They need to sing. As loud as they can, at the top of their lungs, or just casually as they play. They need to hear and feel and sing music, whatever suits them and your family. 

They need to color and draw and create. No, stop. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Yes, Pinterest has millions of cute crafts your family can do. And sure, you can do them! But what your kids really need to carve out space for is unstructured creative time. Where they can write and draw and have access to craft supplies (within your means/ comfortability level) and let their imaginations go wild. 

They need to be engaged in daily conversation. Discuss why the world is the way it is. Ask questions about their favorite characters from books and movies. Get them chatting about the pro baseball player they look up to or the new video game releasing soon that they’re looking forward to. Tell them about your plans for the day, and tell them your thoughts on the political happenings of the time. Engage in whatever conversation they are willing to have with you.

They need you to not feel guilty about screen time. Everything in moderation! Spending time outside is fantastic! Reading books is great! Diving into an art form is incredible! Screens are amazing! If you spend your summer berating them for spending too much time on screens it can lead to bad effects that you don’t want, like hiding their screens so they don’t get caught, or feeling poorly about themselves for wanting screen time. 

And the last thing they need? More play. More time just being a kid and enjoying their time away from academic pressures. What your kid needs most this summer… is to just, be a kid