Summer is almost OVER. How was it?
Co-authored by Tasha Schuh and Rachel Funk-Johnson
Here we are, in the month of August. Many of us are getting excited for the school year to start, but at the same time, we may just want a few more days of summer. For many students and parents, summer has been hard. It can be a time when we see an increase in “I’m bored” statements and adolescents feeling disconnected.
Understanding what our children are thinking and feeling when they are getting ready to return to school can be a major help to teachers, administrators, and especially parents. Kids can experience a wide range of emotions at the beginning of the school year. These can range from sadness and not wanting to return to school, social anxiety after a summer of isolation, or excitement to be back on a schedule and seeing friends again.
Asking a few simple questions can really help our children reflect on whether summer has been a slump or a high point they don’t want to end. Most kids will likely see it as a mix of both. But the conversation can help them see things realistically before they plunge into the new school year. Making sure these questions are open-ended will be key so you can gather more information. Here are some examples:
What was your favorite part about summer?
What do you think this school year will be like?
What was your favorite part of school last year? Do you think this year will be the same or different? How?
If you could change one thing about your summer or school what would it be?
For adolescents, sometimes connecting can be hard, especially with adults or teachers. Offering an open environment to get the conversation started is key. Having the ability to understand that summer may be full of fun for some individuals, while isolating for others, is an important point to reference. Knowing this, and not putting any expectations on kids within the conversation, opens up the ability for them to be honest. This also helps to create trust within the conversation which often leads kids to feel that they can open up to you.
With a few more weeks of summer remaining, the timing is right for the summer slump to cease and a positive new season to start. Inactivity levels within children often lead to higher rates of depression and anxiety. Engaging them and getting them on the move is a great way to help promote an overall sense of wellness and connection. A few ideas to help with this would be looking at what your local community offers for wellness. Many park and recreational programs have offerings that are cost effective and geared toward youth. Additionally, some communities offer outdoor yoga classes open to people of all ages. A quick online search of free or low cost activities within your area via your city’s recreation department or the chamber of commerce could lead to some inviting options.
One of the fastest ways for people to bond (adults and children) is to participate in a new experience together. Whether it’s educational, movement based, or a hobby, sharing something new means that you are learning together. This also helps children to understand that, at any age, we should continue to try potential activities we didn’t even know that we liked. Consider getting involved in the activity your child may want to join within the school year, like a school sport or music. For example, taking time to shoot free throws with your child after supper a few nights a week in the driveway or at your school's playground. If music is their thing, take your child to an outdoor concert in the park. Again, a Google search of your area will show how often free summer concerts are playing close to home.The key is getting out and trying! You never know where it may lead for you and the youth in your life!