The summers here are, but of course, this summer is anything but normal. Thankfully, most people spend their time in other parts of the country with more sane summer weather than we do in Phoenix, and much of what we have to pass along today can be applied equally when it’s our turn to laugh at you as you dig out of 10 feet of snow over winter. And, in our defense, the whole dry heat thing is actually true. 105 degrees in Arizona is much more manageable than 105 degrees in Florida, still feels like a hot oven in your face but much better than being stuck in a hot sauna.
As the country starts to open up, we recommend using caution in managing your family situation. Pay attention to your local health guidelines as Covid-19 infection rates can vary dramatically from one location to another, with population density being a key variable. And if you have anyone with a compromised immune system in your family or circle of friends, remember that your younger kids in particular could unknowingly infect others.
But for now, have a wonderful summer. These are trying times for everyone and be sure to give yourself credit for doing your best – “parent guilt” is a real thing. In the meantime, we’re off to fry an egg on the sidewalk before the temperatures in Phoenix drop below 1,000 degrees.
- Don’t let your kids be part of the “Covid slide.” As we’ve said in previous posts, make sure your kids are able to finish the school year strong and stay on track with their classmates. Having to repeat a grade is one of the most traumatic experiences a child can ever have and a strong predictor of later dropping out of school… not a precedent you want to establish for your kids in today’s knowledge economy. Think about some online or private tutoring you be able to find.
- Connect with your child’s school to plan for the fall. Helping your kids get a head start on the fall, particularly in subjects that interest them, can be an excellent way to fill the time. Remember that for your kids, as for the rest of us, it’s very easy to lose yourself for hours in something that fascinates you. Your kids may very well have different interests than you, and so as long as those interests don’t cross certain lines, that’s fine. For example, you may have no interest in the arts or extreme sports, but if your child as an aunt, uncle, or cousin with those interests, it’s not at all surprising to see those interests pop up elsewhere in the family. Reading a book or visiting an online exhibit about those interests can help your kids develop their reading and critical thinking skills along the way as well.
- Explore local online summer enrichment programs. Your local college, library, or park district may have programs available at little to no cost that will allow your kids to explore their interests. This can be the time to explore a class on acting or dancing or women in science that will plant a seed for your child’s future development. Many are offering online version to help keep contact to a minimum.
- A marathon of educational programming. Now could be the time to let your kids watch longform educational programming like Ken Burns’ Civil War or Alex Haley’s Roots or the 1990s Chicago Bulls documentary Last Dance. Putting your kids in front of the TV doesn’t mean that their minds have to rot, and the combination of high temperatures and a quarantine is the perfect time for them to watch that longer series that they wouldn’t otherwise have time to watch. Talk about it, have them write up their thoughts, all work to keep the mind working.
- Puzzles and model airplanes. Now is the time to sit down and spend that quality time with your kids working out a large puzzle or building a model airplane, a model car, etc. Those are the activities that your kids will remember long after you’re gone. Finding out that your child may solve puzzles from the faces vs. the edge for instance has be mean something right?
- Quick independent activities. Blow some bubbles outside, run in the sprinkler, play outdoor dominos, or even start a sticker book. Those will all provide some fun for your kids and help all of you get outside and avoid running up the electric bill. Ask your kids for their ideas, how challenging can it be?
- Build a fort. Whether your kids want to pile up pillows in the family room, move earth outside, or just make use of a big empty cardboard box, this can be a great way for kids to use their natural creativity to have some fun and pass even weeks at a time. And if they want to build a medieval castle or a military base, all the better. All those amazon boxes can be the perfect building blocks. Just make sure that Mother Nature doesn’t rain on their fortifications!
- Catalog the insects, birds, and trees in your neighborhood. Even in your own back yard, you’ll be surprised to find all sorts of insects, small animals, and plants. Help your kids learn what species they belong to, what food the insects eat, what the insects’ mating habits are, etc. There’s so much that you walk past every day that can be fascinating if you stop and study it.
- “I’m Bored” activity cards. These are a lifesaver and sold in all different forms online, if you don’t want to make a jar of them yourself. Whenever your kids complain about being bored, they pull a card and have to go jump rope, bake a cake, race paper airplanes, etc.
- For kids going to school year-round. Don’t be afraid to let your kids have a break now and then! Take advantage of holidays and weekends during their class schedule to shoehorn in some of the above activities, and when they do have formal breaks from school, find some more activities appropriate to that time of year that you can spend time doing with them.
Keep in mind that this summer will be different and honesty is the best policy. Talk to them on the why behind having to stay away from summer camp, the need to remain vigilant with safe choices, and always remember if you need help with your technology choices, www.dcakids.org is the solution for you.