Building Confidence in the Lazy Days of Summer
By Wendy Shima, M.Ed.
ECE Coordinator, Technical College of the Rockies
I have been seeing it pop up all over social media: a seemingly innocent question that surfaces each June,
“What are you doing with your kids this summer?”
For parents of young children, this question can be a bit daunting. We are looking forward to summer, but what to do with the littles? We look for camps and fairy ballet classes to fill their time, but still, there is an odd tension invading our homes. And we can’t quite figure out what it is.
The lure of summer with its longer days and warmer nights just calls us to relax and it feels like we should have more time for enjoying things. You’d think this would be the perfect time to relax with our littles. However, many of us experience the opposite - we try to relax, but the kiddos are having more temper tantrums, more challenges, and just general whining than when they were in school. What’s going on?
Generally speaking, children between the ages of 0 and 6 feel the most confident when they have order, a routine, and a schedule. This is due to their deep need for patterns in their environment at this age. Even though they are not yet ready to create order, when they understand the order, they feel in control of their day. Creating a sense of order is one of the biggest gifts we can give our children. The same children who went to bed without a fuss during the school year can react poorly when they move from a structured, orderly routine into a less structured, and thus often unpredictable, schedule.
One of the biggest helps for the summer challenges is to keep a regular schedule and routine. The schedule doesn’t need to start and end at the same time every day. As a matter of fact, spending extra time within the schedule is the ideal. We can have a more leisurely lunch together or we can spend extra time preparing dinner or shopping together, since we are not in a rush.
Summer is a great time to help your child build up their skills for independence and boost their confidence in themselves. Consider inviting your child to help you plan and prepare meals. Teach your child how to do their laundry. An 18 month old can help you presort, a 3-4 year old can put everything in the washer, add soap and turn it on! And, since summer is a great time for travelling, show your child how to pack a suitcase, or backpack for a camping trip. Your 3 and 4 year olds can choose outfits and lay them out for the number of days you will be travelling. Just by implementing a clear schedule and some new skills, you will have a more relaxed child, as well as a more confident one!
To stimulate life, leaving it free, however, to unfold itself, that is the first duty of the educator. Maria Montessori
Hi! I'm Wendy Shima, the Coordinator and an instructor for the Early Childhood Education Program at Technical College of the Rockies in Delta, Colorado. I started this site to help navigate the process for becoming an Early Childhood Professional. I hope you find it helpful!