Dr. Jennifer Walsh-Rurak, Ed.D.
Typically, the thought of summer comes with a great deal of excitement and anticipation. However, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lingering restrictions, this summer will be one like no other for our children.
With the cancellation of summer camps, reunions and festivals, finding ways to keep our kids busy and meaningfully engaged is proving to be a complex prospect.
Luckily, despite the inevitable change of plans for most families this summer, we have an abundant opportunity to plan a meaningful summer designed to help our children recover from these stressful few months, reconnect socially, and reengage with hobbies, activities and rich learning opportunities.
Get Outdoors –
The warmer weather is begging to be enjoyed and offers a tremendous chance for kids to reconnect with friends and family who they have been missing. Riding bikes, fishing, golfing and many other outdoor activities provide fun and safe opportunities to see friends from a distance, while participating in the summer activities that we love so much. Consider building these types of events into your child’s summer schedule to encourage socialization, exercise and fresh air.
Fill the Gaps –
With the abrupt transition from classroom instruction to online learning, many students experienced learning loss or widening instructional gaps. The summer months provide a perfect opportunity to catch up and to ensure that your child is well prepared for the next grade level. Take advantage of online credit recovery and tutoring options to help fill gaps and promote increased confidence before your child goes back to school.
Find Their Passion –
During more typical summers, our children enjoy a vast array of camp and workshop options. While many of those offering may be on hold this summer, there are several enriching options online for exploratory sessions in areas such as robotics, entrepreneurship and screen writing just to name a few. There are robust offerings for online museum tours, streaming of Broadway shows and many libraries are offering free book downloads. Help your child revisit an old passion, or even find a new one.
Balance Screen Time –
The increase in screen time due to online learning has heightened parental concerns about how much is too much. Even during the summer months, it is important to help your child to balance time spent on online learning, gaming and web-based socializing with the time they spend with family, as well as participating in exercise and outdoor activities. While online platforms currently provide connectivity and prevent isolation, moderation is the key. Help your child to set healthy limits and strike a balance between online and offline time.
Plan for the Future –
With many summer plans derailed, it is important to acknowledge and validate your child’s disappointment with the cancellations. One way to shift the focus in a more positive direction is to encourage keeping a list of all of the summer activities, trips and plans that have been sidelined, so that your child can look forward to the things they hope to make up for and accomplish when the restrictions are lifted. It is important for children to recognize that while there are events that we are unable to participate in right now, we can look forward to enjoying those activities in the future.
While this summer will certainly be different than previous ones, with thoughtful planning it does not need to be any less enriching or memorable for our children.
Dr. Jennifer Walsh Rurak, Ed.D works for Fusion Education Group. She earned her Doctor of Education degree with a concentration in Educational and Instructional Leadership from Northeastern University. Additionally, she has a Master of Science degree in Educational Leadership/Administration and a Master of Science degree in Special Education both from Canisius College, as well as a Bachelor of Science degree in Education and Exceptionalities from SUNY Cortland. Jennifer has appeared on PBS and ABC in New York, Colorado, West Palm Beach, Las Vegas, San Diego, Arizona and Texas.
Additionally, Jennifer’s work has been featured in Forbes, Westchester Magazine, Macaroni Kid, New Jersey Family, and many other leading publications. When Jennifer is not working, she enjoys time spent with her husband and sons, as well as running, and boating.