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4 Things I Plan to Do with my Kids this Summer

Written by Bethany Todd, in Collaboration with Laura Barr

Preschool is over and before I shed some tears about sending my daughter off to kindergarten this fall, I get the summer. Oh,  sweet summer!  I am already thinking about watermelon on picnic tables, long days at the pool, and summer walks with ice cream cones. But, before all the goodness gets rolling, I wanted to take some time to prepare. Below is a list of things I plan to practice and accomplish with my kids this summer:

This summer, I’m making time for downtime…free play, quiet moments, fun, and boredom. Downtime is essential for refection, imagination, new ideas and rest.

In an article by Scholastic, Hirsh-Pasek states that children “need time to recharge their batteries and process what they’ve learned. Free time allows them to explore, to be scientists, discoverers, creators, and innovators. They do that when they build pillow forts in the family room, sail away in a laundry basket to a foreign land, or find the remarkable in the mundane.” In Tim Kreider’s writes  about the human brains’ need for downtime and that “the space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration.”

If you are worried about boredom…fear not. Imagination and curiosity are often just a step away from your kids saying, “Mom, I’m bored.”

Read, Read, Read. The summer is a great time to catch up on reading…for parents and children. This week, our family is creating a list of books we want to read this summer. I am planning on reading Wind and The Willows to my daughter and Boys on the Boat for myself. I also plan to read a book on gardening and tie dying. As a family, we will also continue our tradition of participating in the Summer Reading Program.

In an article from the School Library Journal, Carole Fiore and Susan Roman, discuss how summer reading programs boost student achievement. “Based on the findings of a recent three-year study by Dominican University’s Graduate School of Library and Information Studies, we can confirm what many librarians have long suspected: students who take part in their local library’s summer reading program significantly improve their reading skills.” The study also showed that students that participated in summer reading programs did not show summer learning loss, which is pretty awesome consideringthe Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan,  description of summer learning loss as “devastating” (New York Times article).

If you live in the Denver area, here is the link to the local summer reading programs . They are designed for babies, kids, and teens. I also value them as a great clue into what my kids should be “doing” or learning at each age. Prizes for completing the program include books and Elitch Garden’s tickets!

Denver is also in its fifth year of conducting another summer reading program called, Youth One, One Denver. Students, grades 9-12, read one book, selected by youth, and participate in a large shared reading experience along with nearly 50 interactive activities and events. This years book is Book Scavenger, written by a local author and listed as a New York Times Bestseller.

Below are some great books lists for kids and parents this summer:

Summer Book Lists for Kids
Kent Denver’s List and Recommended Reads

Summer Book Lists for Adults
Bill Gates Book List
New York Times Best Sellers
e.Merging’s List of “Books We Love”

During the school year, so much is expected of children, at school and within their activities. I tend to loosen up on the kids chore list. This summer, I’m expecting more from my kids. As a member of the family, I am expecting participation in sharing household responsibility.  I am planning to create a fun interactive chore chart, be consistent, and teach my kids the value of shared responsibility, accountability, and working together.

It is my goal for chores not become a form of punishment, but a tool to teach your child independence, prepare them for adulthood and the real world. I will use enforceable statements, a Love and Logic tool, Laura discusses in her another post.

I want to proactively plan for kindergarten and how it will impact our family by intentionally setting school values and routines. I will talk to my daughter about being responsible for her own education. If you are the parent of a child returning to school, consider reflecting on the past school year; what worked and what didn’t work?  Get the kids involved by asking them what could use improving. Then, generate a list of academic, social, and personal goals for the upcoming school year. Create a plan for how these new values and goals will be carried out and measured in an informal kid-friendly way.


Summer is here! Enjoy:)





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