This post is an excerpt of mine from an August 2021 BACKYARD CAMP issue/email newsletter!
You must check out this Canadian website for families. I’ve copied some information below about the creative, fun, and smart activities and challenges they share for parents to keep their kids busy, active, and learning.
As soon as the August long-weekend rolled around, I started seeing back-to-school ads on TV, signalling the half-way point of summer vacation. I bet you did too! I want to shout, “summer, slow down!”
The reality is, we’ve still got lots of time left to enjoy the beautiful summer season.
This is a perfect time to come up with some “mid-summer reflections” with our children. Last year’s classrooms are distant memories, and we’ve got a handful of weeks left to enjoy many outdoor activities.
Why bother with reflections?
Reflecting on the first half of summer together can help your family decide on future planning, and it can promote development of your child’s communication skills.
All through school, our kids practice reflective writing: starting in primary grades, and continuing through middle and high school. In this formal or informal writing style about any subject matter, teachers encourage students to express their thoughts and emotions, and discuss their memories and experiences.
This time of summer is the perfect time to do some reflections with your kids!
Look back at your summer so far, and remember all the interesting, fun things you’ve done. Don’t be afraid to talk about disappointments or challenges too. And then, take the ideas to pencil and paper.
Here are some key tips for encouraging reflective writing:
Ask the right questions.
What did you enjoy so far and why? What’s your most favourite thing we’ve done this summer? What have you learned this summer? What are some things you still want to do before summer ends?
Offer materials for reflection.
Paper, writing and colouring utensils, journals, post-it notes. Some kids are hesitant to print or write their ideas. They can draw instead! Just get them to communicate their ideas and emotions somehow.
Model the practice.
Reflect on your summer so far, and share your reflections with your child.
Overlook technical stuff.
Accurate spelling and grammar don’t matter in reflective writing. Its lack of strict rules motivates kids to write and share their ideas. It can break down fears for some hesitant or struggling writers, because rules are few.
Save everyone’s reflections for later.
It’s fun to look back on our writing, especially when it’s captured our emotions, thoughts, and memories. Reviewing saved work takes us back to fond times, and highlights our progress, growth, and maturity. File the reflections away, only after you’ve posted them on the fridge for a while — as reminders of pastimes and hopes for good things to come.
Encouraging a reflective practice with your child — either by printing in a journal, drawing on plain paper, or even having a conversation on a long car ride — can help improve your child’s communication skills, by making their thoughts more developed, highlighting their self-awareness, and enhancing their critical thinking.
Reflective writing, as a family activity, can promote confidence in writing and communication in general, for school and for life.
More about Backyard Camp:
Backyard Camp offers a free and paid email newsletter for parents and caregivers who would like help programming their child’s play activities. Unlike the various blogs that list many ideas for parents, Backyard Camp’s uniqueness is in the specificity and detail of its programming. This newsletter is personalized to the needs of each family’s circumstances, meaning the content received will be tailored for factors like the child’s age, activity preferences (e.g. crafts, sports), number of children and if they’re living in a house or building.
The content is provided by a range of contributors, from teachers to experienced camp counsellors. They’ve also partnered with existing programs, to share their expertise with the broader community and contribute to helping parents.
For many more tips, grab a copy of Jane's book, Launch Your Kid: How to Promote Your Child’s Academic & Personal Success (without being a helicopter parent)