“But I recall walking through the treetops,
and endless days that seem so long ago.”
— “before there was time” by Beau Bristow
Beau Bristow came and performed at my college when I was still in school. This song touched me so much I purchased his CD so I could listen to it over and over again. Years later, I find that these lyrics still hang with me and linger on my heart. Doesn’t it sound like such a simple, beautiful time?
In her latest article, Carole Richards shares with you a special wish — that this summer you will let your child experience “a touch of wonder.”
Give Them “A Touch of Wonder”
by Carole Richards
A few years ago my husband and I took our blended family of 14 (children and grandchildren) to Bethany Beach, Delaware for a week in the sun. We enjoy Bethany because it is a place where you go back in time. Five year olds are riding their bikes at dusk and children play ball with each other in the quiet streets. Kids can go to the boardwalk together (unsupervised) or to the beach. It is what I remember of life when I was growing up. Summer was a time for relaxing and having fun.
Today many kids are overscheduled and often unable to do much without adult supervision in today’s society. Here is my wish for you and your children this summer:
Take the time to lie outside and watch the clouds in the sky. Will they see a train, the Eiffel Tower, a person, or a nasty monster made out of those puffy clouds?
Collect fireflies. Get a mason jar, punch some holes in the lid and collect and count the fireflies. When it’s time for bed, let the fireflies go. It is an amazing experience.
Play tag and hopscotch and learn to jump rope. These are simple games (no computer or smartphone needed), but your kids are outside in the fresh air. I don’t ever remember being told to get exercise as a kid. And, both of my children walked and played in a creek near our home, and rode their bicycles a lot. They only came home to eat and sleep in the summer.
Take your kids for a game of noncompetitive baseball. A friend and I took our four children to the baseball diamond and played baseball just for fun. I am an awful player but that made it more fun. I got hit in the shins a few times as the catcher. My kids laughed so hard seeing how hard I struggled to catch and throw the ball.
Play Hide and Seek or Capture the Flag. Our entire neighborhood of 10 to 13 year-olds played these games every evening after dinner. They had such fun and learned great social skills. If you are nervous about them being unsupervised, get some of the other parents together on your porch or in your front yard to socialize at the same time.
Go to a beach and collect shells. If you are lucky enough to live near a beach, this is such fun and afterward, sorting and looking at each shell is another great opportunity to be with your child. My children then learned about each type of shell and created a labeled collection.
Live in the moment. Your children are with you for such a short time in their life. Do something crazy, zany and fun when the time feels right. Your children will never forget those spontaneous times.
Give your child the gift of time to ponder and dream. Children need to learn to entertain themselves. They also build their creativity by exploring and making do with whatever is around them. I remember my son creating an imaginary tape recorder out of a strip of cloth and the stair railing. He would wind the strip around the railing and play his tape. What creativity!
Today, parents are worried about their children’s safety. Each parent must weigh the risks against the benefits of some unsupervised outdoor time. If supervision is imperative to you, any of these activities can be done with your child.
When my children were young, I could only afford for each child to participate in one extracurricular activity. At the time it bothered me, but now I see it as a gift. We didn’t live an overly structured life and summer was a time to be carefree – running, jumping, biking and playing in our neighborhood.
Even working parents can find time to have fun with their children without structured activities. After dinner, play catch, ride bikes together, blow bubbles, run in the sprinkler, and laugh a lot.
However, as a parent, just being with your kids, laughing and being silly is more important than how many karate, basketball, ballet, or music lessons you provide your child.
I wish you and your children a “touch of wonder” this summer … without homework and school schedules. Relax and have fun.
Carole Richards is president of North Coast Tutoring Services, president of the Creative Education Institute which holds its Academic Fun & Fitness Camp at Lakeland Community College, author of Richards Learning Systems ® and a frequent guest on radio and TV. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.