Friday, June 14, 2013

Summer Happiness

Well, the year is almost over and summer is upon us! For most kids (and teachers), this is a time of extreme happiness and excitement. We get to spend lots of time doing all those things we daydreamed about during the long, sometimes dreary, days of school. Swimming at the community pool, visiting grandparents, beach vacations, lazy days reading books, sports and fun summer camps. For some, though, the change in routine can cause extra stress and uncertainty. For parents who still have to work this can certainly feel stressful, and for kids who feel best with lots of routine and structure in place it can also cause stress.

For our family, I make out a "daily summer schedule" that we try to follow each weekday. It includes an outside activity (chosen from a list we've already agreed upon: museums, libraries, pool, etc.), an academic activity (writing or math because that's what my son needs to work on), some quiet time in the afternoon (no screens allowed!) and ends with work on our "special project." Last year the special project was putting a vegetable garden in our backyard, something the whole family agreed we wanted to have and we were all willing to work on bit by bit. Since we spent most of the summer cleaning out an area of the yard and building a frame for it, by the time the plants went in it was already late in the summer and the garden didn't yield much. But this year our hard work will pay off and our nice garden area is already starting to bloom with pumpkin vines and little yellow flowers that will become cherry tomatoes (the kids chose these seeds, not me.) I've got lots of ideas for our "special project" for this summer, including writing and illustrating an adventure book, but will let the kids choose something that feels meaningful to them. I'm hoping this teaches the value of hard work and putting effort into something that may not necessarily give immediate gratification. Having this routine in place helped keep us all a little more sane and happy, and days when we couldn't follow the schedule due to doctor's appointments or other events we were all a little "off." I'm hoping to implement the same type of routine this summer, but know it will change a bit because the boys are each a year older and will have different interests.

I plan to update this blog from time to time over the summer, not because anyone reads it, but just to help keep myself in some sort of routine and connected to work. I'll also be reading all the great curriculum materials I bought for the fall and trying to map out how I will teach peace, kindness, and mindfulness to 4 year olds :-) Here's a link to one blog I also follow, Raising Happiness, that is full of great ideas, articles, and resources for creating and sustaining child and family happiness. However you spend the summer with your families, I wish you a wonderful time filled with lots of joy and happiness!


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