It’s been a rough year for kids. Things are starting to thaw a bit, but for many of our children, post-pandemic life may never be the same. After a year of remote learning, zoom calls, and cancelled extracurriculars, what do our kids need this summer, and how can we help them prepare to return to school in the fall? Here are six thoughts from the founders of Ready to Blend and Brain Chase (and the parents of five very cooped-up kids):
Our kids still need to be safe. Before we get too far into this list, let’s remember that we still haven’t been given the “all-clear.” There’s still a lot of sickness out there, and not all of us are comfortable signing our kids up for the next cruise ship out of town. There is still some virtue in going virtual – if you can find the right types of programs.
Kids need social interaction. It’s not that parents aren’t fun to be around, but let’s face it – kids need other kids. As Mr. Miyagi once told Daniel-san, “To make honey, bee needs young flower, not old prune.” Our kids need peer interactions, activities, competitions, and events. They need games to play, ideas to discuss, and problems to solve together.
They need an alternative to Netflix. Screen time. We hate it. But we’ve also learned this year that not all screen time is created equal (here’s what I mean). Kids need to log off and get their hands dirty. They need to build engineering structures, compete in bake-offs, do pushups, mix green slime, orient a compass, and plant a garden. They need to create projects on their own and dream big (like this Brain Chase participant!).
Kids need to catch up (but they don’t need to feel behind). Typcially, kids lose 2-3 months of reading and math comprehension over the summer. For many who may have had a rough academic year, this summer could be considerably worse. Luckily, the pandemic has shown us that some online learning tools can help our kids grow in leaps and bounds. Under the right circumstances, we regularly see students advancing multiple grade levels over the summer. Many of our children need the summer months to prepare academically for the 2021-2022 school year – and online programs can help.
They need something different. In the recent deep freeze in Austin Texas, our kids were confined to the home for over a week. This happened two weeks before our spring break. To the kids, this just felt like yet another extended vacation (aside from the obvious electricity and water issues). It reminded us of Spring 2020, when kids everywhere came home for a spring break that never really ended. Our children lose the natural rhythms and seasons of childhood when their spring breaks, summer vacations, and school years all start blending together. They need the classic summer traditions. They need to feel that this is different.
Kids need something fun. It’s time to take their minds off of sickness, political unrest, and everything else our kids have been dealing with. Summer is about fun, so let’s give them things to hope for and dream about. Let’s give them adventures and mysteries, decoder rings and hidden clues. Now more than ever, our kids need to be sent on a massive, global treasure hunt.
Looking for something that checks all the boxes? Register for six weeks of mystery, adventure, hands-on projects, fancy decoder rings, and real golden treasures with Brain Chase, now in our eighth year.
Are you an educator that wants to learn more about helping kids get ready for fall? Check out this Rebooting Schools seminar from Brain Chase co-founder Heather Staker (all profits go to Children’s Defense Fund).