Summer evokes happy thoughts of lazy days, barbecues and hours at the pool. But it can also make us a little anxious. You might even ask yourself, “Now that the kids are out of school, what am I going to do with them all day every day?” While I am slightly panicked about that myself, I do know that I want to be very intentional to avoid the summer slide even at the preschool level. Summer slide usually refers to the loss of academic skills that students experience over summer vacation, but for the preschooler this could also include the loss of social and emotional areas of learning too.
Your child has gained a lot of independence over the past 9 months at preschool. Some of them have learned how to better manage their things, go potty and wash hands independently, navigate social situations using words, worked on manners, learned to wait patiently for their turn or the teacher’s attention, and so much more. Some of the skills they have acquired can only be learned in group settings and other skills require us as parents to be intentional to not swoop in and “fix the problem” or do something to accommodate them just because it’s easier. It is much more efficient and a lot less messy to put their shoes on for them, make their beds, open their snacks, pour their cereal, or scoop up their dishes after a meal than it is to wait and sometimes cajole them to do it. But, during this summer season, when hopefully life is a little slower, you too can be intentional about letting your preschooler be more independent. You can even push them a little bit to go to the next level of independence. It might feel uncomfortable and it might seem to take forever, but it is so important and helps your child feel successful. A quick Google search and you can find countless articles about ages and stages of independence and tips for teaching those skills.
Outside of your immediate family, setting up playdates and giving your child opportunities to play with other children will help foster the relational skills that they worked so hard on at school. Like all of us, it is easy for children to follow the path of least resistance when practicing new and challenging skills. They are quick to revert to whining, grabbing or whatever easy method they can find to get their needs met instead of asking, waiting and negotiating. You can facilitate their social growth and communication skills by listening to their ideas and helping them formulate appropriate words when playing with friends. If you want some great ideas for how to do this, check out https://consciousdiscipline.com. This website has lots of information and resources to help. You can also search on conscious discipline preschool parents on Pinterest and you will get a plethora of blogs and websites to scroll through and filter out what makes sense for your family.
In terms of academic learning, there are lots of fun ways to retain the skills your preschooler has developed. Before considering reaching for the flashcards or workbooks a quick Pinterest search can lead to so many fun ways to reinforce learning. But, you really just need to be intentional (there’s that word again) as you go about your everyday life. Have your child help put away the silverware; that’s sorting, a math skill. “Read” license plates or street names in the neighborhood when you go for a walk; that’s letter and number recognition. Notice store names and logos; that’s decoding which is a reading skill. Go to the library regularly and read. Reading to children is so beneficial to their growth and development. Check out this website, https://www.best-books-for-kids.com/benefits-of-reading-to-children.html to read about 10 ways reading aloud helps your kids.
The word I keep coming back to as I think about how I want to spend time with my preschool age granddaughter this summer is “intentional.” I want it to be slow; I want to savor the moments. I want to walk in the woods, stop at the creek, take off our shoes and enjoy the cool water. I want to look for bugs, throw stick, fish, and then talk about all of it, marveling at God’s amazing creativity and his goodness to us. I want trips to the grocery store to be an adventure of sights, sounds, and tastes that we can share. I want to pick dandelions, collect rocks, blow bubbles, write on the sidewalk with chalk and water, and a thousand more things that will delight both of us. I want to slow down and savor this time that goes by so fast and so slow all at the same time. And, I want that for you and your children too. Have a great intentional summer!