This month we celebrate dads. Father’s Day is a celebration of fathers, honoring fatherhood, paternal bonds and the role fathers play in society.
Dad’s often get relegated to 2nd tier status compared to mothers, so why not honor all of our dads and father figures on this day. Help your children celebrate their fathers through homemade cards, helping out with household chores for the day, or doing a fun activity that he enjoys. Help them make a connection with their fathers by asking questions about their childhood and the role of their grandparents in their dad’s life.
This is the time of year when kids are starting to stare out their windows longingly awaiting their summer holidays to begin. This has been a long year for all of us, particularly our kids who have attended class from their bedrooms, seeing their friends and teachers only on Zoom. Even those who have returned to in-person school have faced a host of new stressors, from distancing requirements to fears of getting Covid-19, that can make the classroom an anxiety-producing place.
Our kids are looking forward to the summer transition of being outside, being together with their friends and larger community. They’re looking forward to physical activity, summer sports, swimming in pools, visits to the beach and the possibility of vacations with their families.
However, some students may have fallen behind in their academics and need some form of summer school to play catch up. It’s also true that kids are coming off a difficult and traumatic year of school and need breaks and emotional support as much as they need academics. So, how do parents find the balance for their kids? An analysis of student test scores showed only a moderate drop in math test scores during the pandemic and no significant drop in reading, although each child and their academic status is individual for many reasons.
If we look at this data and find that maybe leaning in on the FUN for the summer & balance that with some learning, but perhaps in an environment where we can get them excited about learning again.
Non-academic activities are “incredibly important for your child’s self-esteem” and their mental health. Meanwhile, incorporating social and emotional learning will be critical this summer since many kids have spent the year in relative isolation from their peers. Kids need to be around other kids this summer and practice those really important social skills, communications skills and friendship building skills. It’s just as much a part of their learning too.
Whatever your educational plans for your child are this summer, here are some ways to incorporate social/emotional learning into the home:
Take Care of yourself – in order to cultivate the social/emotional skills of kids, you must take care of your own mental, social and emotional wellness. Children pick up the stress of their caregivers. They sense when we are worried & anxious. Establishing your own self care routines is vital. As I’ve said before, “self care is child care”.
Establish routines and intentionality – routines ground children and provide a sense of safety and security. They’re especially important during this time when children’s lives have been changed so dramatically. Create “intentional time” – activities that you can do together.
Be truly present – many parents may be more physically present during Covid, but it doesn’t mean they are truly present due to their work demands and managing online learning. It is important to dedicate structured time to “connection” and don’t assume it will happen “organically”. Set daily times for playing together, reading books or exploring outdoors.
Practice kindness or acts of service to others – practicing kindness for others help us build an appreciation for our own lives. Have your kids phone their grandparents, or an elderly neighbor that may be alone. Recreate joyful moments by drawing a picture from their memory. Practice the ritual of speaking about the “highlights” of the day during dinner time.
Get Creative Together – try cooking or baking together, doing puzzles, coloring or art projects, board games, or creating a music video. Getting physical together is always great; outdoor games, or asking them to join in on your workouts.
Celebrate the “good stuff” – celebrate the good things that happen, make sure to highlight them for your kids. Research states that when we stop to “savor the good stuff” we develop resilience to the negative things that may be happening in our lives.
Practice active listening – don’t assume you know what your child is feeling, or is afraid of. Ask questions, listen actively, use eye contact. Validate that you see and acknowledge their feelings, fears and concerns.
Help your child express and name emotions – this helps young kids understand and identify their feelings. There are wonderful emotions charts that help young kids name their feelings. For your older kids, have them journal what they’re feeling.
Try to practice social/emotional learning daily through one or a couple of these ideas.