Category Archives: children and play

How does your summer measure up?

For many parents and teachers in the south, the summer is rapidly coming to a close and school will soon be starting.  This means that families are getting in those last minute vacations and activities.  Kids are counting the last days of freedom while many parents are counting the number of day until they are free again.  It’s a mixed bag of feelings and energy.

Due to the ever present social media deluge, many parents and kids experience a fear of missing out (FOMO) as the summer ends. Scroll through your Facebook feed and you will see everyone you know posed on the beach or cruise ship or traveling with their team sport.  That’s where the comparison begins.  Did you take a vacation as grand and exciting as your neighbor or friends?  Did the kids learn new skills at band or sports camp?  Did the baseball team win the championship?  Sometimes it seems that everyone else is living a celebrity like exciting life and in comparison your summer experience may seem mundane and dull.  Worried about what your child will write in their “What I did this summer” essay? Then you may have fallen victim to the FOMO virus.

Reflections on Your Daily Experience

What if instead of trying to have the grandest summer ever, you tried to be your personal best every day… summer included?  Rather than compare your summer to that of your Facebook friends, here is a better way to reflect on and review your summer.  In his excellent book, Triggers: Creating Behavior that Lasts/Becoming the Person You Want to Be, Marshall Goldsmith suggests that we all ask ourselves the following questions each day.

Did I do my best to:
Set clear goals?
Make progress toward goal achievement?
Find meaning?
Be happy?
Build positive relationships?
Be fully engaged and present?

This is a revolutionary approach to living each day because it takes the responsibility for our actions and feelings off of others and puts it squarely where it belongs… on our own shoulders.  No more comparing our day at home to the neighbors’ day at the theme park. While Goldsmith is recommending these questions to adults, i think they are quite relevant to kids as well.  Here’s what it might look like:

Spend time over the dinner table discussing these six questions.  Model for your children how these questions are relevant for your daily life as well as theirs.  Here are some examples:

  • What was your goal today? Maybe finish reading a book or create a new craft project?
  • What progress did you make?
  • How did you create your own meaning?  This doesn’t have to be philosophical and deep.  Maybe you were being creative, social, learning something new or helping someone out.
  • Did you decide to be happy?  How did that turn out?  If you were unhappy, how could you turn that around tomorrow?
  • Did you build positive relationships with your family and friends?  What are some examples? What did you do that was kind?  helpful?
  • Were you fully engaged and present… did you give all your attention to what you were doing at the moment?

I know that these questions are challenging.  I’ve started asking myself these questions every day myself and some days I fall short.  But the important thing is to reflect, share and grow together as a family.  Let me know how it works out.

Related Posts:

4 Secrets to a Stress Free Family Vacation

3 Ways to Make the Most of Your Summer

5 Ways to Create a Summer of Renewal

 

Wyatt’s Little Book of Lesson Plans, Worksheets and Games

Just for you!  Here are activities, lesson plans, discussion questions, coloring sheets, word search puzzles and games for each of the six Wyatt the Wonder Dog Books.  Over 75 pages of ideas so that you can create lessons on cooperation, teamwork and leadership skills to quickly extend and incorporate the Wyatt stories.

 

                     

http://wyatthewonderdog.com/activitybook

 

5 Ways to Create a Summer of Renewal

Does summer mean a time of renewal for you?

How do you make that happen?

Here’s how NOT to make it happen:  Dive into the weeks ahead with no plan except to fill every moment with enriching activities.  Schedule back to back camps or sports activities for the kids. Volunteer for every possible  need or request that comes your way.  After all, since you work with kids all year, you are the perfect fill in at vacation Bible school or scout camp. Plan exhausting family vacations and spend time on the road or jostling for  space in line at crowded theme or water parks.  Catch up on lots of classes and get the credits that you need…

I think you get the idea. If this is your plan (or lack of one) then you will return to school in the fall exhausted… and in need of a vacation.

How to Create an Oasis of Summer Renewal

  1. Take time to reflect and be aware:  What do you most need to feel refreshed and energized?  Relaxing time by the pool to catch up on your reading?  An exercise plan to get you back in the routine of regular exercise?  Quality family time to really connect and share? An educational class that will get you up-to-date and excited about new trends?
  2. Survey your family:  Rather than assume that the kids want to spend all summer at the pool or standing in line at the theme park, set up a family meeting to get everyone’s idea of a perfect summer.  You may be surprised at what is important to them.
  3. Set goals and create a plan:  Schedule events throughout the summer.  Create balance with family vacations and time for kids to explore and discover on  their own.  Studies show that creativity and critical thinking is enhanced with unscheduled  and unstructured time.  This is as important for you as it is for your children.
  4. Post a calendar and the plan: Keep everyone informed of the scheduled and unscheduled time and their responsibilities.  Re-frame “I’m bored” as a sign that a child needs to get creative and read, play a game or do something active outside. It’s not your responsibility to keep everyone entertained.
  5. Keep a gratitude journal:  Every evening review what family members are grateful for and either write it down, take a photo or draw a picture for your journal.  At the end of the summer you will have a great record of summer time memories!

Summer time can be a time to be renewed and energized or a time of exhaustion and over work.  The real key is to create a plan and follow through on it.  I wish you a summer that is an oasis  of renewal in the busyness of life.

Related Posts:

Creating Summertime Fun

Create Summertime Memories through Writing

3 Ways to Slay the Boredom Dragon

 

Wonder what Wyatt is doing this summer?  Visiting his grandparents at the beach… Check  out the Wyatt the Wonder Dog Book Series, children’s books with an empowering message.

wyatt2

Need some activities to keep the kiddos engaged with the lesson in the story?  I put everything together for you in one book!

Wyatt’s Little Book of Lesson Plans, Worksheets and Games

Here are activities, lesson plans, discussion questions, coloring sheets, word search puzzles and games for each of the six Wyatt the Wonder Dog Books.  Over 75 pages of ideas so that you can create lessons on cooperation, teamwork and leadership skills to quickly extend and incorporate the Wyatt stories.

 

                     

http://wyatthewonderdog.com/activitybook

 

The Benefits of Play

As chilly winter days transition into balmy spring time, children and adults both anticipate spending more time outdoors.  Unfortunately, the school environment doesn’t always cooperate with the onset of spring fever as students prepare for and take mandated tests or complete end of year projects.  Some classes forgo recess altogether in order to focus on academic excellence.  A nationwide study on how first through fifth grade children spend their time at school found that on a randomly selected day, 21% of children did not have any recess  at all.

What are the benefits of recess?  Here are a few:

  • Brain research show a relationship between physical activity and the development of brain connections.
  • Children who are active at school continue to be active at home.
  • Children develop social and behavioral skills as they learn to exercise leadership, negotiate, take turns and resolve conflicts.
  • Memory and attention are improved when learning is spaced out and recess provides a necessary break from academics.
  • Play for children is not just a social and physical outlet, it is a real learning activity.

How can adults encourage positive play? The best way is by setting the stage before hand.

  • Just as in the classroom, develop a specific set of rules for children to follow.  Encourage them to be a part of the process and then commit to following the rules.
  • Brainstorm games that encourage responsibility, cooperation, and communication. Make a list of the games to facilitate child choice.
  • Anticipate and discuss the most  common problems that are encountered on the playground:  not including everyone in a game, not encouraging others or putting someone down because of a lack of ability, not following the rules.
  • Develop a system for students to solve problems when they occur.  Practice with role-play how to handle disagreements.
  • Regularly review the process to see how it is working.

Related posts:

Children and Friendship Problems

Good or Bad Decision?

Teaching Kids How to Handle Emotion

Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Cooperation

Wyatt wants to play Frisbee. Max want to build a fort and Callie wants to have tea party. How do the three friends reconcile their differences? Can it be done? When Wyatt doesn’t get his way, Max’s mother suggests he be the Superhero for the day. Join Wyatt as he learns how the magic of cooperation and compromise can bring the five friends closer together.

Wyatt the Wonder Dog -Cooperation Cover
Wyatt the Wonder Dog: Learns About Cooperation (Volume 6)