I was driving home from work a few weeks ago when I spotted an elementary school marquee that displayed, “Rest, Read, Relax.” That got me thinking: what will this summer look like for children and their families? Students are shutting down remote learning and packing up supplies from their desks spaced 6 feet apart. The end of the school year is here; an academic year unlike any other, filled with navigating how to continue educating our children while remaining ever so cautious in the midst of a global pandemic.
Many parents may feel compelled to enroll their children in academic-enriched programs in fear of perceived regression in learning. However, I cannot help but think that the most valuable opportunities lost in the past year are more so related to developmental growth: socializing with other children, active play outside, and spending quality time unplugged.
Children’s lives have been upended since the start of COVID-19, and as a result, their self-confidence and emotional wellbeing have also taken a hit. While it may seem important to make up for lost time in the classroom, the focus should be on activities, programs, and routines that are restorative in nature and allow children the space to practice and refine important developmental skills such as creativity, teamwork, conflict resolution, and self-regulation. Research local community and recreational centers for camps and work with your child to find one that speaks to their passions.
Scheduling play dates here and there, being intentional with setting aside devices to be present with your child, and leaving room for some down time are other ways to satisfy their developmental and emotional needs. These days, children live very structured day-to-day with little room to know what down time looks and feels like. One might hear a frequent complaint of, “I’m bored!” but this opens up an opportunity to practice using imagination to pass the time without being glued to a screen.
The concept of ‘summer break’ is like recovery from an endurance event. It is a time to heal, to shift focus from training to rest, and regain energy for the new school year. The marquee said it better than I could, “Rest, Read, Relax.”
Looking for more tips and guidance? JFS Orlando’s counselors are specialized in various areas and are here to support you. Telehealth counseling appointments now available! Medicare, Medicaid, and almost all insurances are accepted. Sliding scale available for those who do not have insurance or have an insurance we do not accept. Call 407-644-7671 or complete our new online form to request an appointment today!
Danielle Glover, LCSW, specializes in children, adolescents, and adults. Her interventions include cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychoeducation, client-centered and solution-focused approaches to encourage clients to develop new coping skills to manage life transitions and adverse events. Danielle possesses the ability to connect and build positive therapeutic alliances with her clients through open communication, empathy, and self-empowerment to promote resiliency and future successes.