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Summer Learning: F.U.N.

With the stress and anxiety of this past Spring, we all need a vacation from our kids, our spouses, our pets and even ourselves! Since a shelter-in-place phasing out plan is, well, unclear at best, parents want to have a things for their kids to do. Something. Anything. Otherwise, it's gonna be a LONG summer. For everyone in the family.

Three easy approaches to consider are listed below - be careful, you might just have too much fun!

F is for family, fun, friends. As an experienced educator, facilitator and parent...please take June off from academics. Let your children be "lazy" and recuperate from the past three months. I am guessing you are done with the distance-learning thing just a much as your kids are. Good. Take a break. For everyone's sake. Let your kids ride bikes outside, build a fort or have a water balloon fight. Let them "hang" with friends (whatever that looks like from your health comfort level). Let them binge watch t.v. or go for the marathon record of gaming online with friends. If your children require summer enhancement, set it up to occur in July. If the adults in the family are all working and you need child-care, then keep the camps fun and adventurous. Put the academics on hold for the month of June.

U is for unicorn. All of our children are magical unicorns seeking time to practice what makes them sparkle and sing. (Or dance, or cook, or act, or garden, or.....) On a recent free parent call I hosted, (If you missed it, you missed out on all the FUN - join me on the next one!), we chatted about the many ways you can enrich your child's creativity and love of learning. Regardless of what you create, my suggestion is this: allow your child choice. Here's my favorite summer strategy: set up five shoe-box type of boxes. Have the kids decorate and label them Monday through Friday. Ask your child to make a list of everything they would like to do, learn, read and be this summer. (Obviously, edit the list if necessary. Like getting a puppy. If that is not going to happen, then don't add it to the box.) Now, YOU add in fun activities you would like to do with your kids. Include reading a book as a family, a backyard tea party, outdoor movie night, sock-puppet comedy show, baking contest....then toss in the academic activities that will keep those brain muscles working; like Math practice or a scavenger hunt for vocabulary words....if you need ideas, just ask! Now, include the rewards (I use a different color of paper.) like an extra hour of video games, special trip for takeout, an ice-cream party... Finally, sort out those ideas on paper and divide equally into each box with a variety of learning activities and fun rewards. Everyday have your children pull out an activity and see if it's doable that day. If not, make a plan for it to happen another day. Or, put it back in the box and grab another activity. You set the guidelines for how many activities before a reward - what works for your family. You are giving your kids choice and they will follow what lights up for them and suddenly your magical unicorn is creating their own activities without having to go to the shoe-box.

N is for nope. It's ok to have a bad day. It's ok to say no to your kids. It's ok to let your kids "rot their brains" for a day because you can't do it that day. I'll say it again - it's ok to not be perfect. Summer isn't just for them to recover. It's for you, too. (If your brain is spinning because of what I said....maybe create your own shoe-box with self-care ideas in them?) Parenting is not a right or wrong thing. Parenting is working with what you have, possibly screwing up and choosing something differently for the next time. Give yourself a break. Go for a run by yourself. Go soak in the tub. Grab a drink before 5pm and hang-out with a friend. (Even if it's via video.) Whatever it is that makes you a Mommy or a Daddy Unicorn - DO IT. Your kids will thank you and they will learn from you by the example you set.

Now go have some F.U.N. this summer! Empower those magical unicorns to sparkle!

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