The last year has been challenging for everyone, and it has been tough on our children. Post pandemic life may never be the same for them.  Zoom calls remote learning and canceled extracurricular activities have been the norm for more than a year.  What do these children need this summer, and how can we best prepare them for a full-time return to school in the fall?  Some experts in children’s education have come up with six thoughts to guide you on this journey.

Kids need to be safe. The “all-clear” has not been issued by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) yet.  They are still people getting sick and dying from Covid-19.  A vaccine for those under 12 has not been developed and test yet.  Many adults feel uncomfortable with a return to pre-pandemic norms.  Keeping kids safe is still and should be our top priority.

Kids are human beings, and human beings need social interaction. Kids need to be around other children.  They have ideas to discuss with their peers, problems that are unique to their age that needs to be overcome, and games to play with friends.  These are the types of skills and even friendships that they will carry with them for their entire life.

They need alternatives to Computer Screens. Screen time is not all wrong.  This year we have learned that much of it can be good and healthy.  But kids need more than screen time. They need to run and play outside.  They need to create projects, structures in the sandbox.  They need to dig holes and plant things.  They need to explore their environment and learn to protect it as well.  They need to splash in puddles and learn how to avoid them. They need to ride bikes and slide down slides.

Kids need to get caught up.  During a typical summer, children often lose 2 to 3 months of math and reading comprehension. Some children adapted well to virtual learning, and some did not.  For those who did adapt well, the summer could be worse for their educational development than usual. Finding alternative ways to help them stay focused and catch up should be on the to-do list of every parent and guardian.  Online resources do exist to help; libraries and other sources should also be considered.

Children will need something different. There is a natural ebb and flow to the seasons.  Children adapt to the seasonal changes, as do adults.  For children, the Fall means the start of school.  There are breaks in the day-to-day of school life, with short breaks about every eight weeks. (Think Columbus Day, Christmas, February, and April).  The thing is, the Spring break of 2020 never ended.  Children stayed home. Spring break, Summer Vacation, Christmas, Easter all blended into one long period of home confinement. They need a return to some kind of standard pattern.  They need the classic summer traditions.  They need to feel that things have changed and are different now. Like all of us, they need a break.

Children need something fun. The constant reminders of sickness, political turmoil, and all the other things children have been dealing with are not the healthiest environment.  Summer is about fun for children—swimming, riding bikes, and playing games in the sunshine. Let them explore their world this summer.  Give them something to dream about, something to hope for that will happen sooner rather than later.