Whew. How did that happen? My son has exactly one week left at school. It has been a year of growth and challenges and grace. His teachers are amazing, and it has been a year of me learning to let go and trust his experience.
Now we have the summer ahead- no big plans for vacations, just spending time together as a family and creating/protecting opportunities for him to be a child. If you read my posts, you know we are a fan of mess, and encouraging independence, and TONS of exploring and discovering.
I have had conversations with parents lately about their summer plans, and some have expressed concern about what they are going to do with their children all summer. I am not going to entertain my child- we are taking time to deliberately create a prepared environment for him in our backyard and in our home. We will have lots of trips to the library, and maybe join a story time, and we will be hosting a summer camp here for children for a few weeks, but other than that, our summer will be largely unscheduled.
Children (especially my guy!) need structure, so we will create summer routines with the flexibility to take a short road trip to visit Grammy and Grampy, but really--- unscheduled. Big time. Will my son be bored this summer? Potentially, but in that boredom he will realize that he has the power to create. When we continually entertain and schedule our child's days, they lose the ability to choose and to develop these skills.
What to do?
* Keep a basic routine and expectations- they have to help make bed/get dressed/etc.
* We are going to limit technology/tv time- our new routine has been pizza party Fridays and we watch a family movie
* Declutter toys- simplify-- have something that your child can use to build with- depending on their age/ability- wooden blocks/legos/recycled boxes to create structures; have supplies that they can create with- paint/markers/tape/glue/paper/sidewalk chalk; have books that they can read; provide a variety of spaces for them to be comfy and have alone time
* Follow their lead- if they request friend time, then set it up, but again-- don't over schedule.
* If you have a summer nanny or college/high school sitter, go over your expectations and family rules so that you are all on the same page
* Summer camps are fun ways to meet new children and new ideas, but for some children, a new experience like that can cause anxiety. You know your child the best and what makes them thrive and what their triggers are... trust your child.
* Traveling with your child-- I will write an entire post on that- but my biggest suggestion-- go into the experience with patience, an open mind and prepared to support your child through the experience.
Biggest advice--- keep it simple. Truly. Keep everything simple. Don't over think/over-plan/over-schedule. Sometimes we get so caught up in creating this Pinterest worthy childhood that we forget that all our child wants is to know that they are safe, that they are loved, and that they are known, their interests and passions are supported and acknowledged.
Beth is a mom first and foremost. She is also a trained Montessori teacher who is passionate about making the lofty ideals of the Montessori philosophy more real and manageable for families.