Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Before Heading Back-to-School… Don’t Forget About Summer!

With summer days shifting into the start of school, we all know we have some adjustments to make. Over the summer we loosen the reigns a bit with our children. We enjoy being more flexible about bedtimes and to-do lists. In my family we stretch the day as long as we can with late evening dinners and lazy mornings. Even my rules about not eating in the living room seem to go by the wayside as we all pile up together on the couch with ice cream or popcorn (or both), and watch a Redbox movie until 11:30pm. 

We all know it’s best to ease into the realities of the necessary school routine:
  • Go to bed a little earlier
  • Get up a little earlier
  • Gather your supplies
  • Remind yourselves about sharing the bathroom 
  • Talk about the new routine
  • Practice a run through of your morning routine
There are many articles out there about how to get ready for the transition back into the realities of the school schedule. This article is a little different. It is about what summer teaches us and the valuable lessons you learned over the past ten weeks. Some of what makes summer feel so good are the positive habits we start practicing. They are habits we should all do our best to hang onto throughout the school season.

The creative play your children engaged in after they were thoroughly bored and then built an amazing blanket fort is a result of unstructured time and pure innovation. Leave it up. It’s a great place to escape, play and giggle! As you get organized and sign-up for recreational sports leagues, after-school camps, musical lessons and karate, be sure to schedule time for the unstructured moments that open the doors to creativity.

Remember to relax. Before I sat down to write this short blog, I took a nap. Yes, you read that right, a nap! When do we allow ourselves to do that except on vacation? Relaxing is restorative. Sometimes, we adults forget about the importance of relaxing. Who says you can’t relax AND settle in to the school schedule? My son took much of his online Latin class this summer in a hammock he strung up across the carport. We aren’t putting away the hammock. Relaxing is essential.

During the summer we all spend more time outdoors. My kids and I kayaked on Lake Brandt, walked in the woods and sat around a campfire. During the school year it seems so hard to make time for these things. The “Great Outdoors” doesn’t go away; we just pay less attention to it. We all need more time outdoors, and not just walking to and from the car, but time to laugh and play as a family.

Last, over the summer I tend to read more. I do read all the time, but during the school year it seems all of my reading is related to work. Over the summer I lose myself in great pieces of fiction. It’s like traveling somewhere far away while resting on a comfortable old lawn chair in the back yard. Encourage your children to keep reading for pleasure. Even if it’s just 10 minutes a day, find a good novel and read with them. It’s good for all of you!

I look forward to seeing all of you back at school in just a few short weeks. While of course I advise you to start adjusting bedtimes and morning routines and gather all your school supplies; please remember the things you learned this summer that you may not want to change. I’m going to do my best to hang on to unstructured time, relaxation, outdoor anything, and reading for fun.
Michelle Bostian, MSW, LCSW
Head of Counseling
Greensboro Day School