I’m sure you’ve heard the reports that surface this time every year warning parents that kids lose half of their acquired school knowledge over the two months they are home for summer break. As if parents needed yet another thing to worry about, now you feel the pressure to make your kids hit the books when all they really want to do is hit the pool.
Studies show that we need brain breaks to maximize our learning. As teachers, we build those breaks into the school day to help kids recharge and stay alert. I view the summer as a much needed extended brain break. Kids are under a great deal of pressure during the school year, and oftentimes just knowing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel helps them to hang in there until summer. We need to give them that light that they crave. Now, more than ever, kids’ lives are over-scheduled with a full day at school, followed by homework, sports, activities, family responsibilities, and so on. But they are only going to be kids for a very short time. Let’s encourage them to relax, to play, to be creative. Just as we need vacations to de-stress, kids need time to just be kids.
This doesn’t mean that they have to quit learning; it just means that their learning shifts from textbooks and notes to hands-on experiences. Take your kids on an exploration of the yard, the neighborhood, your town, the nearest big city. Go to museums, zoos, aquariums, and free concerts in the park. If you can, travel and expose your children to other cultures and types of people. At home, encourage your kids to read for fun by taking them to the library and setting an example in your home. Engage in creative activities with them: puzzles, building with legos, drawing, and playing cards.
I promise you that your kids will rejuvenate and enter the new school year relaxed and ready to learn. Now, play on!