Parenting Matters: Summer is almost over

Time flies especially when you are having fun. Hopefully that is your case on what has taken place over the summer. But give it some thought and see if you have done the things you hoped you would do when summer was just a distant dream. But remember, it is never too late.

Take a look at what you hoped to have your child accomplish. How much has she read since school let out? Does she ever talk about what she is reading? Did the teacher give her ideas for suggested reading assignments she could do during the summer? Have you checked out the program for children that is at the library? Do you ever talk with her about what you have read? These kinds of discussion are important. If she isn’t talking about reading, what are you talking about? No matter what her age, hopefully you are sharing thoughts, ideas, dreams and hopes.

If she is very little as in toddler age, hopefully you are laying the foundation for talking. All the current studies emphasize the importance of talking with your young child. In fact, the more words your little one hears, the smarter she becomes. One study even hooked toddlers up to machines they wore all day and that counted the words the child heard. This was to let parents know how much they could improve on talking with their children.

Research has shown that children who hear few words from their parents fall further and further behind in school. So talk in the car, talk at the store, talk while you are waiting in line, talk while you make dinner or give her a bath and talk about the stories you read together.

Think about the role television has played in your summer. One thing researchers have found is that the time that children are watching television is a time they don’t talk or hear words from parents. Words from the television aren’t the kinds of words that add to your child’s intelligence.

How did your 6-year-old do on her math facts last year in kindergarten? Check it out. Make some flash cards with the addition and subtraction facts she should know and work with her on getting them down really fast. It can be fun and it too involves lots of words.

As she progresses in school, add to her flash cards and keep her up to date so that she will learn her multiplication facts and her division facts. Knowing all of these will be a great asset all the way through her school years.

Get out

What role does the outside play in your child’s life? Did she see with you the changes that occurred over the time of a couple of months? Did you plant anything that she could see the cycle of its growth? Was she at all into the birds, bees, sunset and sunrise that were happening all around her? Did she realize how much science she was learning as she enjoyed a different kind of learning?

Did you encourage her to have friends over to play? Another skill she needs to work on is the ability to get along with other children. Just learning how to take turns takes time. Even calling to ask someone to come over is a learned skill. Summer is a great time for this kind of learning.

Was this an active summer for her? Was this a learning summer? Talk with her about what she has enjoyed the most in these summer months and see which things you can continue. Then read about new things you want to include for future summers and what you can improve on in these last few weeks.

Summer is as important to her education about words, books, science and math as the school year. Summer is just different. Summer, just like fall, winter and spring, is as good as you make it. Put the effort into it to make this a special time.



Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents. Reach Martin at or at 681-2250.


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