Media sources relentlessly hammer us with messages about COVID-19 and the accompanying unpredictability, isolation, loneliness, and anxiety. It goes without saying that the feelings that may manifest in our adult lives are also felt in our children. It is equally obvious that our children are facing their own challenges.
With the goal of helping our students (and parents) stay well this summer, we are writing to offer suggestions on how to maintain mental, emotional, and physical health during the summer months. In this spirit, we note that as we move to unstructured vacation time, it is crucially important that households maintain structure. A structured schedule implies reliability, predictability, and discipline. A structured sleep-wake/cycle is critical to maintaining normalcy - and normal is our goal. Let your student know that s(he) has finished the academic year and sing her/his praises. Your student has accomplished a great deal and made history! Our students have survived the first major phase of our pandemic, maintained their academic studies, and are primed for more successes to come. Encouragement, optimism, and happiness are always important – but never more so than right now.
It is important that your summer plans follow social distance protocols and that your child is comfortable wearing a cloth mask. Use the language recommended by the CDC, “My mask protects you; your mask protects me.” Having children understand these new concepts will make their transition back to school easier next fall.
During these summer months, make sure your child is getting outside and enjoying the fresh air. It is important that children are not afraid to go outside. Maintaining this normalcy is critical. Staying physically active will create endorphins that will translate to optimism. If your child does not ride a bike, perhaps this is the year to learn. This can be the time for new challenges. Consider what challenges are suitable and able to be accomplished this summer. Make a list and begin!
Several weeks ago we asked the question, who do you want to be during COVID-19? Both the Guidance and Health Offices suggest that we commit to being people of hope. Hope affects what we do with our lives - our willingness to be hopeful affects how we use our talents, time, and treasures. Hope gives us joy and peace. Hope gives us protection, strength, and courage plus optimism for a brighter tomorrow.
Let’s also be people of prayer. Let’s pray for our families, our school community, our nation, and our world. We need prayer. Let’s be people who welcome the summer and demonstrate a willingness to take on new challenges. Let’s create opportunities.
Parents, our task is not easy, but it is one we are capable of doing. Our children need us to maintain a steadfast spirit and they need to know that we will keep them safe. Even if we, as parents feel anxious, we cannot and should not pass that anxiousness along to our children. This is our time to lead, to guide, and to love.
With the hope of providing inspiration for summer wellness, the list below has been compiled by the Guidance and Health Offices with assistance from an article titled The Practical Utopian. Mrs. Shoemaker (email@example.com) has agreed to help us share ideas to inspire our students and community. If you have an idea that will help our children maintain their physical and emotional health this summer, please add to this list and share your inspiration.
- Write in a daily journal. Start a journal entry by noting what is going well and with the words, “I am thankful for….”
- Draw or paint in a sketch pad. Bring out that inner artist.
- Make family scrapbooks of past fun family trips and special occasions or of a COVID summer.
- Write a note to grandparents and other loved ones.
- Eat healthily!
- At dinnertime each night, ask each person to acknowledge what went well that day and to express a sense of gratitude and thanksgiving.
- Have your child plan and assist with dinner prep at least as appropriate.
- Connect with an isolated neighbor or grandparent and virtually tour a museum. These 12 museums have free virtual tours.
- Go on an “I Spy” trip through your neighborhood.
- Play happy music and dance!
- Sing! Online choirs are now a thing: Google ‘the sofa singers.’ (Google this even if you don’t sing. It’s wonderful.)
- Create and grow a garden: Google ‘lasagna gardening,’ if space is an issue.
- Find healthy stress relievers that are unrelated to screen time.
- Have your child teach you to use Zoom and connect with others who are isolated.
- Share ‘viral kindness’ in the form of postcards or good deeds.
- Want to travel? Create a faux-cation and travel virtually.
- Bake breads from around the world.
- Scholastic is offering free online classes for Pre-K to Grades 6+.
- Skillshare has 1,000 free classes. Open Culture also has free on-line courses
- Discuss current events and have your child consider how they can contribute to positive change.
- Explore curiosities and areas of interest at EdX, Coursera, Khan Academy, Open Culture, Udemy, Academic Earth, and a whole lot more.
- Middle schoolers: use this time to visit High School campuses and think about the High School entrance exam.
- Challenge your procrastinator self: take on those jobs that are easy to put off.
- Missing restaurants? (We are too). Have your child create a menu and pretend.
- Become a reader! Read. Read more. Read a lot.
- Join your friends at The Woods Summer 2020 Academy!
Our best wishes for your summer peace and relaxation.