Many of us are rapidly approaching the end of the school year, and preparing to have additional time with our precious children. Some of us are eagerly anticipating that time, while others of us are wondering how to fill all of it, to keep the children occupied. Regardless of our attitude regarding the forthcoming summer, it is coming very soon (and perhaps has started already for some of us), and it would behoove us to take some time to prepare ourselves! Both this note and the subsequent week’s daily posts will offer suggestions to both the “anticipaters” and the “wonderers.”
Pray! First and foremost, let us remember to pray. We can start by thanking God for this opportunity with our children. He has blessed us by putting them into our lives, and entrusted us with their care and education. He will certainly give us what we need to spend this summer loving and learning with them! So, let us also ask Him for wisdom to know what to do with our children, as well as grace to love them every moment of the summer, as we gently point them to His kingdom each day. “Pray and then speak. That’s what to do with your children. If you are constantly lecturing them, you’ll become tiresome and when they grow up they’ll feel a kind of oppression. Prefer prayer and speak to them through prayer. Speak to God and God will speak to their hearts.” – Elder Porphyrios, Wounded by Love
Celebrate! When school is finished, celebrate the hard work and learning that the children have accomplished, this year! Go out for ice cream or a meal. Maybe welcome the children home with a banner or another idea such as one of these: http://creativepartyideasbycheryl.blogspot.com/2013/05/last-day-of-school-ideas.html
Have a plan! Everything runs more smoothly if there’s a plan behind it. For the families who have children who function best with a schedule, consider making one like this http://www.icanteachmychild.com/2014/05/printable-summer-schedule/ to keep posted on the fridge or in another family space, changing it as needed for each day’s schedule. Find ideas of things to do in the “down” or “free” time here: http://www.digitalreflections.typepad.com/digital_reflections/2009/06/100-free-things-to-do-with-your-kids-this-summer.html.
Learn together! Extend the children’s math and science learning into the summer time by together doing fun activities such as these: http://www.science-sparks.com/2013/05/19/summer-science/; http://www.babble.com/crafts-activities/25-at-home-science-experiments/; http://www.dreambox.com/blog/outdoor-math-games; or http://zenomath.org/play-math/fun-math-games/.
Read! You can’t go wrong with reading. The local library can hook you up with all sorts of information and adventures! If you need ideas, here are 20 books to read with a five-year-old: http://godlyrose.blogspot.com/2013/08/what-we-read-for-fun-august.html. Or check out these books, and then go on related field trips as suggested at: http://www.notimeforflashcards.com/category/book-list. See http://www.onlypassionatecuriosity.com/10-books-for-boys-to-read-this-summer/ for book ideas for boys and http://www.oprah.com/oprahsbookclub/Books-for-Girls-Kids-Reading-Listfor ideas for girls. If you want to take advantage of free summer reading incentive programs, check out these: http://myfrugaladventures.com/2014/04/free-summer-reading-programs-for-kids-2014/!
Teach basic skills! Take advantage of the “extra” time summer offers to help the children learn skills they’ll need to know later in life. Cook with them. Help them to garden. Take them shopping for groceries. Teach them to do a chore they haven’t yet tackled. Teach them to sew. (See http://spoonful.com/crafts/12-easy-sewing-projects-for-kids for kid-friendly sewing projects.)
Get crafty! Plan to do crafts that your children enjoy, or provide supplies for something they’ve never tried before. Invest in art supplies that are new to them, so they can explore and/or you can learn together how to use the supplies! If you prefer to have a plan for the craft, find 46 simple craft ideas using basic supplies here:http://www.happinessishomemade.net/2014/05/17/45-quick-easy-kids-crafts-anyone-can-make/.
Keep rainy day plans in your back pocket! Rainy days happen during summer. Not to worry, if you’ve got a plan “in your back pocket” for such a time as this! Check out the fantastically fun ideas at http://innerchildfun.com/2011/08/10-rainy-day-activities-for-kids.html; http://innerchildfun.com/2011/03/what-we-do-on-rainy-days.html; and http://rainydaymum.co.uk/101-ideas-for-a-rainy-summers-day.
Be still! It goes against the grain of our culture to be still and quiet. Teach your children the beauty of this by taking them on a hike, or to a stream/lake, or even to a city park; and take a few moments to be still in that space. Start with just a few minutes of stillness. After the still time, talk about what you saw, heard, smelled, felt, etc. during that stillness. How much of that would you have missed, if you had been talking/moving, instead of being still? Thank God for helping you to notice His beautiful world, and work throughout the summer to find more times/ways to be still. “Be still and know that I am God.” Ps. 46:10
Take time to chat! Savor the extra time by finding out new things about your children. Not sure what to ask? Check out these sweet ideas for bedtime chats: http://www.imom.com/espresso-minute/20-pillow-talk-questions-for-you-and-your-child/. Or, print and use these questions: http://www.imom.com/tools/conversation-starters/kid-talk-1.0/ or http://www.imom.com/tools/conversation-starters/kid-talk-2.0/.
The summer is nearly upon us. Let us take advantage of our this extra time with our children, by teaching them important skills, having fun together, and learning more about who they are and what they like. Most of all, let us take them by the hand and lead them in the way of Life; both by our words and our deeds. May the Lord bless and guide us as we choose to savor our children’s presence, this summer!