Summer is here! This much-anticipated season has the potential to be the “best summer ever,” but before you get overwhelmed by the seemingly endless possibilities that await you and your family between now and the first day of school, take a few minutes to think back on what some of your most cherished moments were from your childhood summers.
Oftentimes, it’s the simplest pleasures that stick the most: staying up late and playing outside as the sun sets, listening for the ice-cream truck to drive through the neighborhood (always just before dinner time!), going to the pool, and days on end without an agenda. Young children, however, still need structure and consistency to help them navigate the days. When you can’t tell time or read a calendar, the days and weeks can be very long and overwhelming, especially when you throw in travel for vacations, summer camps, and changes in their routine.
In the Montessori classroom there are a number of concepts that we use to create the framework that holds everything together. We are organized to lessen chaos and provide structure, we limit choices to avoid overwhelming children with too many options, and we always try to end on a high note, so that we move into the next activity of the day with positive energy.
With these in mind, look ahead to your summer days and consider what it could look like, if you took a Montessori approach to summer fun:
- Planning ahead, gathering your supplies ahead of time, and having some structure to new activities will go a long way when it comes to avoiding mid-summer meltdowns. Make sure you have what you need before you start making popsicles or tell the kids it’s time to go the pool or announce that it’s picnic time. Taking a few minutes to prep for an activity will ensure that the initial excitement doesn’t disappear before you leave the house.
- Have a designated tote bag for summer, and make sure it’s always stocked with drinks, snacks, sunscreen, hats, and some toys or books. That bag will save your sanity when your little guy is hot, thirsty, and D.O.N.E. with the fun.
- One or two fun new activities are great! Running around to the pool, the ice-cream shop, the outdoor festival, and grandma’s house for a cook-out all in one day, however, is just plain exhausting for little ones. Avoid the overwhelm and limit the casual chaos until your kids are a little older and can keep up with a faster pace. No one enjoys a crash and burn kind of day!
- If your children will be home with you all summer, plan one or two excursions per week and leave the rest of the days open to whatever summer brings. By not overbooking your days with activities, you’ll leave plenty of room for spontaneity, which is half of the fun of summer in the first place!
Know Your Start and Finish
- Ask any Montessori teacher and she’ll tell you: one of the best ways to guarantee a fun experience for all is to know when to call it a day. Children’s moods can turn on a dime and, what started out as a fun excursion, can suddenly turn into a hot, sweaty, tear-stained mess. Make a plan, communicate your plan, and leave when spirits are high.
- Know what’s happening next. Kids don’t want to leave the pool? They might, if they knew that they’re going home to have popsicles on the front porch! Having too much fun at the playground? Let’s go home and cool off with the hose, a sprinkler, and some water toys! Leave on a high note, always knowing what’s next.
Summer can be fun, fun, fun… but, it’s a loooonng couple of months, so plan ahead! A little organization and forethought goes a long way when it comes to kids: plan ahead and be proactive to avoid summer meltdowns. Make this summer memorable for them and for you!
What’s your family’s favorite summer activity? Share in the comments and give us your top tips and tricks to making it extra fun!