By Marlena Rice
It is officially summer. Parents of older children probably just said a prayer of relief after that statement. For them, this hiatus in classroom learning means no more dropping off to school before work in the mornings, and no more late work lunches in order to make plays, parent teacher conferences, and holiday classroom parties. I just heard multiple sighs of relief, because although we enjoy all of these things and love watching our little people discover themselves as they participate in their activities, my goodness, it gets exhausting!
But what happens when your child goes to school year-round?
I have a preschooler. And, although my son’s official preschool session has ended, as all preschool mothers know, the summer leaves us with 2 and 1/2 months of preparation for the next “big boy” and big girl” class come the fall. So, while our babies are attending preschool day camps full of movies, water days and other hot weather fun, it is up to us to continue enriching their learning experiences as they grow. Here are some great ideas:
Visit the Zoo
Taking your child to the zoo can result in multiple lessons about a wide variety of land and sea animals. Take photographs, and afterward your child will have pictures to reference as he learns the animals’ names and about the habitats in which they live.
Hit the Blue
Go to the pool, the river, the beach or play around in the sprinklers in your front yard. It is never too early to teach our babies to enjoy and not to be afraid of the water. Visit a local department store, get some fun water floats and toys, and work on everything from counting multiple buoys to learning to differentiate varying colors as you play together.
You know what your child loves more than anyone. “M” is for Mickey Mouse, and “P” may be for Popsicle. Your next step? Hit up your computer with your little one and find pictures that match your alphabet. Make flashcards. Sit together for 30 minutes to one hour each day and you will be surprised what can happen during summer break.
Explore the Outdoors
If you live in a wooded area with lots of greenery or near a walking trail or park, grab your child’s stroller or wagon and go on a nature walk. Be on the lookout for flowers and plants, bugs, rabbits, and creepy crawlies that your littles ones might love (even if you don’t) and combine your exercise session with a lesson about plants and wildlife.
Take Up a Shared Hobby
Despite the fact that most of us working parents don’t have a summer break like our children (and yes, I’m extremely envious of all my teacher friends), our kids’ summer freedom often means just a little more free time for us as well. If there is something that you love doing, whether it’s picking up the old guitar in your spare bedroom or taking photographs, incorporate your child into your hobby. Teach them a little more about the fun side of yourself.
Pictures are always fun and are such an easy and fun way to document our memories. Pack a picnic one day, grab your camera and buy a disposable one for your little person and have a photo day! Once you’re done, visit a crafts store and build your own scrapbooks or make a collage of your memory together.
Whatever you do, have fun with your kids this summer!
Photo: Marlena Rice
Caption: Beaux William watches the giraffes at the Birmingham Zoo.