Disclaimer :: This post contains sponsored content brought to Fort Worth Moms by The Oakridge School.
Summertime is filled with magic and wonder. It is a time purposefully built into the calendar to give students, families, and teachers the opportunity to come up for air and fill their energy tanks to begin again this fall. When you throw the word “pandemic” into the mix, however, everything gets a little blurry.
If you’re anything like me, you just finished some version of the marathon called “distance learning.” You dug your heels in deep, trying to juggle the adjustments to life and routines. Mothers already wear multiple hats. We quickly learned through this time at home that it was all hats, all of the time. We became teacher facilitators, supporting our children’s academic growth, all the while nurturing and loving them through a difficult moment in history.
Now that summer break has arrived, these thoughts become tangled as they spill and tumble over one another, and we attempt to piece together a plan. How will I keep my children occupied while I work from home? How do I keep my children from falling behind? The questions are endless.
As a mother of three, a specialist in the field of early childhood, and director of The Oakridge School Early Childhood Center, I want to bring some peace to your strained hearts and minds: Children are natural learners. If you think about it, our babies learn how to crawl, walk, and talk, all before stepping into a classroom. Some of you are in the midst of the questioning stage of toddler-ville and are about to pull your hair out if your little one asks “why” one more time. Fear not! Children are curious, inquisitive, and constantly learning new things.
That being said, you may also know about that summer gap and want to keep your child from falling behind. The first thing to remember during this strange time is to give yourself grace. We mothers have a tendency to pressure ourselves to “do it all.” Here are some practical things you can do at home with your littlest learners this summer to help him or her continue to thrive on this educational journey.
School is an incredible place for children to grow and learn as they dive into subjects like literature and math. However, we have a beautiful opportunity in front of us. Summer is the perfect time to sit down with your children and let them take the reins of their learning. Explore what they’re passionate about, spend time asking questions, and research answers together. You may be surprised that their interests now may shape who they grow up to become.
I am passionate about reading. It may seem like such a simple thing to do, but your child is learning countless lessons as you read together. Reading to your children develops their language skills, exposes them to new vocabulary, and immerses them in different topics and situations than they experience at home. As you read together, you are building concentration skills, encouraging a thirst for knowledge, and helping children develop empathy as they relate to characters and their emotions. On top of all of these incredible benefits, reading with your children builds a bond between you’ll both remember the rest of your lives.
Build Life Skills
Life skills are equally important facets of a good, solid education. Involve your children in cooking and baking by letting them help with simple tasks. Your younger learners can help by dumping ingredients into the bowl. Count the number of scoops together as you add ingredients and let them ask questions about what you’re adding. You may learn some new things along the way!
Laundry is another excellent opportunity for learning. Have your children help by sorting the clothes. We have three kids ages eight, six, and three. Their job on laundry day is to separate their own clothes into a pile. Lay out all of the socks and have them find the matching pair, discuss the different colors in the laundry, identify patterns on your clothes together. You’d be surprised how many academic skills can be incorporated in simple, everyday chores.
Let Them Be Bored
When children are allowed to be bored, their brains ignite. Though initially it may be easier to hand them a tablet or plop them in front of a TV, allowing your children to be bored will provide them with opportunities to stretch their imaginations and explore the world around them.
Talk, Talk and Talk Some More
The best advice I can give to parents wanting to help their children continue to learn and grow in the midst of this pandemic summer, is to talk. Talk while you cook; talk while you sort laundry; talk while you walk. Explain what you’re doing and what you’re thinking and ask them questions.
Imagine how beautiful it will be to look back and see the rainbow that emerged because of the summer that wasn’t. This time with our children is truly fleeting, and though our desire to help them thrive academically is important, the opportunity to strengthen our precious relationships with our children is the rainbow at the end of this storm.
Established in 1979, The Oakridge School is a coeducational, college preparatory school for students age three through grade 12. The school draws a diverse student body from 37 area cities and 12 countries to a dynamic learning environment on a 100-acre campus in Arlington. The Oakridge School mission is to inspire students to seek their full potential in academics, the arts, and athletics in a challenging and nurturing environment that cultivates social responsibility, mutual respect, and personal integrity. Visit www.theoakridgeschool.or