Your Developing Child
Parenting Resources by Cathy Schreiber, CMC Education Consultant
Summer is a magical season with outdoor adventures and endless hours of sunshine. While some crave the return to school-year routines, many resist saying goodbye to the fun and sun of summer. How can young children best be supported during this time of transition?
Any sort of change in routine may be unsettling. Transitioning from a summer schedule to a school may mean a change in caregivers or location. While parents mindfully make the best choices, anything different can throw a monkey wrench into the day of a young child. Here are some ways to help. Encourage children to talk about their feelings. Make it okay for your child to feel that he or she can speak about things that are sad or frightening. Validate the emotion and offer empathy. Your little one is capable of the change, but it may be very big feelings that are an obstacle. Share a parallel story with a similar theme or act out what is happening with puppets or action figures.
Create closure. Celebrate summer fun and create reflections through photos or drawings. Cherish keepsakes from summer travels or festivals. Keep memories alive through stories and singing those fun songs. Prepare your child for change. Mark the number of days left for summer vacation on the calendar, visit the school or childcare center. Together make a list of questions about school. Going to the place and meeting the staff gives you a joint experience in which to discuss the change that will occur. No detail is too trivial; children need to know about bathrooms, food, transportation….review the daily routine.
Change presents an opportunity for growth. As adults support children through transitions, a path is being forged as to how that child will deal with change his or her entire life. Offer your child the tools needed to process change, because one thing is for sure, life presents change.
What is it that children truly need? Beyond the roof over their head, food on the table and love, all parents aspire for their children to have happiness and a slew of other things. But how are children equipped to lead an effective life? What is needed when life inevitably offers some bumps and disappointments? As we hope for success and all their dreams to come true, we can prepare children to have the strength to handle disappointment.
Important for building resiliency are trusting relationships with key adults: parents, teachers, coaches. It is about being able to delay gratification, having the ability to control the impulse to need it immediately. Having resiliency is a bit like having an insurance policy. If adversity happens, resiliency offers the toolbox of skills to cope. Read on, check out the videos to explore how to facilitate building resiliency in your developing child.
Time with family, present and in the moment, sharing experiences, build the stories that are the fabric of our lives.
The warm days of summer offer some of my favorite family memories. The annual summer vacations of my childhood, swimming and picnicking with my own children. These types of experiences are woven into our beings and bring connection and memories. From a simple walk to a new adventure, research has concluded that it is not about the material goods but about the experience.
What experiences will bring meaning to your family time? Sometimes we happen upon events or spontaneously decide to try that new thing. Other times we carve out the moments and create the space for the richness of time with those most precious to us. How will you build these experiences during these next months of sunshine and blue skies? Reduce the obstacles and make time to be together. Eliminate the negative thoughts of what can’t be obtained and positively image what is within your means. Cleveland offers a treasure box filled with parks, museums, festivals and waterfronts. Load up the car and separate from the everyday busy events of life. You will gain a trunk load of memories.
What is needed to promote growth in your child?
This is the time of year when the leaves grow from buds and the grass needs a trim. Other things are growing and blooming: your child! It is so easy to list the tasks a child is still unable to achieve so take some time and think about all the terrific gains your child is making. Think back to a year ago? Words, movements, interests???
A springtime inventory should include the wonderful ways your child has grown. It could be the two-wheeler that was tackled last summer or the independence needed for that sleepover at grandma’s. Think of it as a report card without the academic focus. What ways has your child’s body grown stronger, what social situations are handled with more ease, where is your child comfortable taking a bit more risk, what items intrigue your child and what experiences and places encourage your child to thrive?
The garden is growing and children need tending every day. Where should the fertilizer be sprinkled? What weeds are to be ignored? Create your family lesson plan on what is important to develop in your child and work on Self-Regulation. Self-regulation is the childhood stepping stone to Executive Function. And that is definitely needed for your child to bloom!
Celebrate spring!!! Here are ways to incorporate the much needed change of season and provide learning for your child.
Find a daily weather report to follow…in the news, on your phone or in the paper. Talk about the temperatures and weather. Find your child’s strengths and shape the experience in that way. Does your child like to draw, write or chart? Do you have a singer, talker or thinker? Encourage thinking and drawing conclusions like choosing the right jacket or rain boots if needed.
- On a not too cold rainy day, dance in the rain, let your child play outside and get wet….so fun and a bath is a natural part of the end of this activity. Look at the patterns formed from dripping gutters and explore puddles!!!
- A sunny day? Take a bucket of water and paintbrushes outside. Paint a wall or the sidewalk. Take chalk along to trace shadows. Gather sticks to clean up the yard and create a wooden sculpture in the dirt.
- Plant together. Start seeds inside, plant early flowers like pansies, plan a vegetable patch. Let your children be part of the seasonal change and learn what warmer weather provides. Let them water, pick and see the seed to table evolution. It is more fun to munch what you have grown!
- Pack a picnic. Find a park or use your own yard. Fun to plan the menu and eat outside. Find joy in the season.
- Plan a family event. Develop important skills like how to plan and figuring out what is needed. Also, delaying gratification is another benefit of talking about an activity but not doing it now. Build emotional resilience by talking about how hard it may be to wait, but a “you can do it” approach.
Links For Parents:
National Association for the Education of Young Children
Sensory Friendly Resources for children with special needs: