Finishing another year of school is a big deal for a child. It means feeling a sense of accomplishment and moving forward to new adventures. How can your family make this really special?
First, plan a celebration. What marks the beginning of summer for your family? My children always loved starting the season with an event we could do together. It doesn’t have to be something big or expensive. Our kids always looked forward to camping the first weekend after school got out, but you can do something much simpler. Go on a bike ride together, have a picnic in the park, or make a trip to your favorite ice cream shop for the first cone of the summer. Let your child help plan the celebration and take the time to celebrate together.
Second, reminisce with your children about their growth over the past year, focusing on areas where they improved. We found that sorting through the large stack of papers the kids brought home throughout the year jogged a lot of memories. I had my kids pick out a few special papers to save in a simple three-ring binder, and I added my own favorites before discarding the rest. Ask your children to tell you what they were most proud of accomplishing. Self-reflection encourages growth. Also, tell your children the areas where you noticed their growth. Remember to include ways they got better at using their social skills. Discuss all of their successes, praise them, and let them know you noticed their efforts.
Finally, make plans for the summer. Are there new things your child would like to learn or continue to improve on? If your daughter wants to become a better basketball player, schedule time to shoot baskets together. Does your son want to learn more about dragons? Plan time to go to the library together to read a book aloud or listen to a book on CD. (Librarians can give you some great suggestions.) You also can find time to cook with your kids once or twice a week to help improve their math skills (measuring, figuring out quantities for recipes, etc.). Learning shouldn’t stop when summer arrives, but you can make it fun and less structured than school.
Helping your children plan ways to grow and explore their interests will enable them to get the most out of their summer. Who knows? You might learn something too!