Give the Gift of Your Presence this Summer!

This past May I was in Virginia training at Apple Country Head Start located in Winchester, Virginia.  I had the wonderful opportunity of seeing my seven-year old grandson while in Winchester.  My grandson and I share a common interest; the Civil War.  I wondered how to appropriately and authentically share this tumultuous time in our country’s history to a seven-year old.  Well kudos to the National Park Service.  They have a program for “kids” to earn their Junior Ranger Award.  The Junior Ranger Manual thoughtfully guided us through the Antietam Battlefield at our own pace.  We reported back to Ranger Joe who genuinely went through the pages.  Thanks Ranger Joe for your help!  We’re celebrating in the picture below!

So what does this have to do with the summer and your children?  This experience reminded me of summers with my sons and it got me to thinking about today and your children.  How can you navigate your summer so that it is one of memory making?  What can help you to be mindful and present with your children?   What lessons can I pass on to you?

As a mother of two young boys I could hardly wait for summer.  It was a chance to slow down and catch my breath!  We could stay in our jammies all morning and make wonderful structures with Lego‘s.  We could make fabulous mud pits in the backyard with elaborate cities and highways.  After lunch we would walk to the pool and spend the rest of the afternoon with neighborhood friends.  This was our routine with the occasional field trip to Wolf Trap for their wonderful summer children’s programs.  Not very glitzy but one of memory making with meaningful and authentic experiences that would support each of them educationally.   As they grew they would ultimately attend Boy Scout Camp and Church Camp.

I’m not advocating for you to do your summer my way.  We’re living in the 21st century and with that come so many more opportunities.  We know more today.  What I do advocate is to be intentional with this new knowledge.  This is what I suggest you think about when planning your summer.

  • Share your passion and joy with your child.  I loved the outdoors.  I loved the water.  It was that simple for me.  To this day my sons love the outdoors and love the water. What’s your passion?  What brings you joy?  When you share this with your child, the experiences will be meaningful and authentic which literally make connections with your child that will lead your child to be more likely to cooperate.  These experiences are literally wiring their brain for cooperation, willingness and impulse control.
  • Create a routine.  I would not suggest to replicate my routine.  I would suggest that you create days that your child can predict.  Make a weekly calendar so that children can see what Monday looks like, what Tuesday looks like.  Great conversations can come out of the sheer anticipation of what’s next sprinkled with some of your stories as a child.
  • Look for your child’s passion and joy!  Be a keen observer of your child and build on their interests.  What is your child good at?  Notice and describe this out loud; let go of “good job.”  We so often “highlight” what our children are doing wrong.  This summer take the time to “highlight” their brilliance.  This noticing and describing literally builds their frontal lobes.
Take the time this summer to be thoughtful and mindful with your children.  What do you want their stories to be when they are grown?  You are the best present to them so give them the gift of your presence this summer.  That’s priceless.
For those of you that are interested in the Junior Ranger Program here is the link.
Junior Ranger Flowers

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