How to Make the Most of the Summer During the Pandemic
While times are challenging and the future remains uncertain, quarantine has helped all of us learn to make the most of the present moment. It’s given us the opportunity to step back and reflect on all the things that really matter, large or small. Now, we all know this will be a summer unlike anything we've experienced before. The question is: How can we all make the most of it anyway?
As a family, think about things you’d like to do, learn, or experience this summer - just because they’re important to you. Here are some suggestions we’ve come up with, thanks to our time at home.
Don’t have time to read now? Pin it for later:
Take a Pause, or a Break
This is really important: the school year is over and everybody deserves a chance to stop and just take a breath. Parents all over the country know that kids are really tired after this spring and that makes sense. Let them spend some time doing nothing - maybe even let them get bored.
It’s good for kids to learn (and for adults to remember!) how to make their own fun and sit without being occupied. Meet kids where they are, and let them decompress completely before jumping back in. This might look like vegging out in front of the TV for a while, sleeping in, or even just milling around the house. That’s OK! Everybody deserves a little leisure time.
Do Something to Keep Moving Forward
Set aside a free day to do a nagging at-home project or to explore a personal passion. Now’s the time. Encourage your kids to read that book on the shelf or clean out a closet. You can also help your kids keep growing academically if remote learning proved a little lackluster. Use the summer months to shore up math, reading, and writing skills. Summer assignments from school, usually optional, should be worked through carefully. Students can also enlist help by reaching out to teachers for additional resources. They can also access learning videos and practice on Fact Monster.
Find Something Positive Every Day
Yes, it's really easy to feel bad right now. That makes it especially important to stay in the moment by doing something positive, even if it’s small, for yourself, a loved one, or your community. Make sure your kids spend time with a plant or animal friend, participate in a pleasant hobby (we especially like sketching or reading - anything to slow down the pace and promote mindfulness), or even do something as simple as go for a walk around the block. You can also create fun activities for the whole family to decompress together. Weekly game nights, family ice cream socials, or scavenger hunts can make any at-home moment feel like a special occasion.
Keep Talking to Each Other
The school year is ending and now it’s more important than ever to stay together and maintain our communities. Have your kids save email addresses or schedule regular friendly check-ins. Friends and teachers alike will appreciate it, especially since nobody knows if the upcoming semester will begin in-person. Zoom trivia nights are fun for everybody, and there are multiple platforms that enable movie buffs to watch films and TV shows together at the same time. It’s a good time, too, for older folks in the family to reconnect with old friends. The upside of all of this is that our social lives are happening via telephone and computer, so far-flung friends and loved ones are just as accessible as next-door neighbors.
Connecting with the World Around Us Is More Important Than Ever
Of course, we've recently seen an incredible surge in social justice awareness and anti-racist action. It’s never too early or too late to reflect on these concepts with your kids. Being at home together is the perfect time to engage slowly and gently. This means having conversations about your family’s own privilege, vulnerability, and identity. And everyone can participate meaningfully with the wider community, even if it’s from behind a computer screen. Get together as a family and figure out what local justice organizations line up with your particular concerns and values and reach out to them! Young kids and mid-level learners might work on their typing and writing by helping to draft an email; older students could draft letters to local media about their feelings and responses to the current political moment.
This summer might not be a typical one, but it can still be both enjoyable and meaningful. There is plenty for your family to do, learn, and feel good about, one day at a time.
A.S. Braverman is an Academic Director at Thinking Caps Group. Thinking Caps has published many books, including SAT Demystified (McGraw-Hill, 2012) and ACT Demystified (McGraw-Hill, 2013). The company has been featured in The New York Times, Parenting, and The Huffington Post.