Summer is around the corner which means our kids are out of school with LOTS of free time on their hands. Summer is the time of holidays, less structure in one’s life, hence more freedom to explore, reflect and relax.
As parents, how do we support our children in experiencing that sense of freedom, exploring the world around them? When we were children, we can both remember the freedom of structure that summer represented, that sense of relaxation where we could maybe learn a new skill – sailing comes to mind for us – or spend more time with our parents and just be able to play without the structured learning environment, known as school.
What is the summer experience we want for our kids and more importantly what is the summer experience our children want? How can we find out what the summer means to them, what they look forward to (or not) around life without school and its structure, learning and socializing with classmates?
The world has changed since even Kirsten was a child in ways that make summer experiences much different. There are many more opportunities offered for structured learning, and it feels like fewer opportunities for summer holidays or camp or the level of freedom experienced by other generations. The world is very different for the children of today and as parents we cannot assume to understand what our kids want or expect from a summer experience. Parents can no longer expect to provide their children with the same summer experiences they had (unless there is a tradition such as a family cottage, camping on the same lake etc) as a child.
We would invite you as a parent to become really curious and open as to what your children expect or want for a summer experience. Perhaps you work and your children will be with a child care provider during the day, 5 days a week. How can you keep the magic of summer alive for all of you? What can you do to ensure your children have an experience that holds meaning for them during the warm summer months?
Asking curious open questions that being with how, what, where, when (and why sparingly) gives your children the opportunity to voice their opinions, their desires. Through an open discussion you can work to really see and hear them so they feel they have been understood. Together you can develop a plan so they can have an experience this summer that holds meaning for them and provides them with that sense of excitement summer brought for you when you were growing up.
We invite you to have that conversation with your children, develop a plan and hold each other accountable to ensure you all have a memorable experience this summer.