Last week Tues. and Wed. St. Joseph Marello Catholic Church in Granite Bay hosted an event to give parents insights and tips to prepare for summer. This examiner, as one of the presenters, explained the strategic value of a family summer plan and Bonnie Terry, learning specialist, offered some activities for engaging children in fun activities that also strengthen academic skills.
Naturally we think of summer as a time of fun and sun. And it is also a time when anxiety and depression can surface in response to boredom, purposelessness, and friendships changing. It can be a time of loss – a loss of continuity in routines and a time of anxiety for what the next school year will bring academically as well as socially. So it is no surprise that June and July are the peak months when youth start using drugs and alcohol. Survey data from the Coalition For Placer Youth, (a grass roots coalition of parents, educators, health and welfare agencies, and law enforcement devoted to youth substance abuse prevention strategies), indicates that the average age when kids begin dabbling with alcohol and drugs is 13 years old.
Tips for governing emotion
First, check your own state of heart and mind. Parents cannot give what they do not have. And what the children need most to respond to summertime stress is a heart at peace. So if you are not committed to a heart at peace, to not allow anxiety (about drugs and alcohol, addictive behavior of devices) and stress (kids’ expectations and behavior issues, finances, demands to find a work/home life balance, vacations) to govern how you respond, then chances are great that all emotion can become amplified creating risk for unhealthy coping strategies for you and your family. Consider that peace comes from trusting in the higher power to overcome fear and anxiety. It is the mustard seed of faith that makes a free society possible. God is sovereign over the individual, and He grants us free will and intelligence. Therefore we can choose to not to become anxious or fearful – and call upon the higher power, Who is love, to govern our own heart and mind in all circumstances.
Then, create a family summer plan that features purpose.
Engage your children by explaining that you have confidence in their own God-given ability to make good choices and contribute good things to the world – starting at home. 1) Prepare a list of household jobs and assign point values and have your children select the jobs they want to do that add up to a certain amount of points. This is training for them to run their own household someday. Put the kids in charge. 2) Get them busy thinking about their own passions and interests. (Check out: What Color is Your Parachute). And 3) establish house rules for cyber safety that encourages your child to be self-governing about the use of technology and talk with you about the things they are experiencing in their world on and off line – so you can impart your wisdom.
Summer fun activities that strengthen academic skills
“Our sacred mission is to help our children become the best versions of themselves,” Terry said, “and we can do this by engaging the whole child. Consider summer activities can get them to use all of their learning skills involving watching, listening and doing.”
- Family field trips. Schedule field trips to a bakery, the State Capitol, or a botanical garden. There may be some other local destinations that could be explored, like a railroad station or the fire department.
- Write and publish about summer experiences. Start a scrap book with photos of field trips and summer activities. Have your children write about their experiences and publish it in the book.
- “Add on” stories. One person begins to tell a story (fictional) and after a few sentences the next person continues telling the story by responding to the statement “ and then what happened next.”
For more suggestions about summer activities, go to: Bonnie Terry Learning
(Disclosure: This examiner serves as the chair of the SJM parenting ministry and is a founding member of The Coalition For Placer Youth.)