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5 Reasons Why Summer Is An Important Time in Children’s Lives

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During the summer holiday season there is a subtle shift on early learning, with the focus on ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’. This can become an opportunity to experience a greater depth within relationships with all living things in the world around us.

Written by: Early Educational Advisor - Jo Harris  

 

There is an undeniable and universal joy that is often associated with summer and holidays.

Everything slows down for a little while and there is a feeling of freedom that is not experienced in any other season.

The sense that time is flowing freely can also extend to adults, often meaning that they are also more relaxed with the rules and have a greater willingness to join in on the fun and games of the season. 

Ironically this might also be the time that the battery-operated devices are disregarded in favour of quality time with family and friends engaged in activities with water, sand, or dirt. 

This includes play and learning, and with the focus shifted into ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’ it becomes an opportunity to form relationships with all living things in the world around us. 

Therefore, learning becomes more fluid, and connections made are often without expectation, but remain long lasting and have great impact. 

 

Here are 5 reasons why this time is important to a child’s social and emotional development. 

1.There is an obvious change of pace free from expectation 

As many regular daily routines are relaxed and fall away, it allows children to experience more chances to be spontaneous and develop creativity into how the days will play out. 

When there are less things on the perpetual ‘to-do’ list that draws on our time, the shape of our days can become more flexible, inviting room for the potential of new activities and experiences to take place. 

It can make it seem that the things we ‘must’ do, more pleasant. Think of the difference between eating alfresco meals compared to sitting inside. Sticky hands and faces could be hosed off in the garden instead of in the bathroom, perhaps also serving to cool down from the summer heat. 

It’s in a relaxed space like this one that conversations can naturally turn to learning about water conservation and other scientific concepts such as evaporation and condensation whilst sky gazing at the clouds.

Within a formal learning space, this could instigate some reflective practices for educators to consider some program planning choices. During the warmer months of the year, it can often mean there are less children accessing a service or spending less or shorter periods of time at the service if families also have some flexible working arrangements across the holidays. 

Maybe there are more opportunities to change the flow of the day by working with the natural weather cycles, such as starting the day with outdoor play before the heat of the day sets in.

Setting up activities and experiences such as a picnic rug with books and pillows or a water tray to wash dishes or dolls under the shade of a tree is the perfect place to relax and connect through storytelling and role play. 

 

2. New opportunities to socialise are often easier to arrange 

When all the relaxing of rules from the often frantic pace of life is the norm, it is a welcome change for everyone, including young children, to recharge their batteries collectively. 

Making plans to meet up with family and friends can be simpler without the restrictions of routine events present. 

Spending time in nature is easier and often means there is less to organise when getting together with others as the stimulation is coming from the beauty of the environment. Packing a picnic lunch can seem so exciting with the simplicity of how food is presented and enjoyed in new surroundings and in the company of people you love!

Meeting new friends is made possible when travelling to new places for holidays or at shared public events. This is an important skill to practice and develop as it prepares children for the many new environments, they will be spending time in throughout different stages of their lives.

Teaching and leading groups of children a ring game or songs such as ‘Bee, Bee Bumblebee’ and ‘Who Is Missing’? They are easy, fun, and memorable ways to encourage and build social skills such as learning names and the ‘to and fro’ of turn taking and exchanging with others that are important to engage with a new group of children - essential for ensuring a positive space for interaction and learning to occur in comfort. 

 

3. Increased family time and quality interaction 

Longer days and shorter nights can make time seem as if it is elastic, which, for most children is exactly what they want, allowing them to extend the day past their usual bedtime and where day naps for anyone are an acceptable part of living in a hot climate.

Playing games with family and friends is a popular pastime during the summer holidays. They provide an amazing opportunity to create lasting memories.

Days at the beach or by the pool can include games of cricket, tennis or creating endless sandcastles amongst the crowds of people. 

Camping in the backyard is also a fun and memorable option to incite the holiday feeling from home. There is nothing quite like spending an afternoon in a fort made from blankets and sheets or sleeping under the stars!

When it is time to transition into a new learning space, there are some simple ways to add a touch of children’s home lives into their day. Framing a treasured photograph and making a display of them allows children to feel a continuous connection to their loved ones, even in their absence. 

Spending time talking about their home experiences can help to create meaningful connections with others, where children may discover they share some things in common. 

 

4.Enjoy the warm weather for health and immunity building properties

During the warmer seasons, children have an opportunity to build their levels of Vitamin D when exposed to sunlight during outdoor play. This is an optimal way to naturally get a boost for overall health and the development of strong bones and muscles.

With adequate sun protection from shade and clothing it is possible to set up spaces that provide space for outdoor play and learning.

Water play is so simple and effective for whiling away the hours without care which can be as simple as a bucket of water and a paintbrush. Incidental learning can occur in this way such as observing what happens to water on hot concrete.

Known for its relaxing properties, water play has the added benefit of cooling both mind and body simultaneously!

 

5. Time for exploration, creation, and connection 

Those hazy days of summer are perfect for young children’s imagination to blossom as they are free to enjoy time to explore their surroundings. Unstructured time is ideal for extending play and the opportunity to connect and create with the natural rhythm of the seasons. 

Laying back and watching the clouds can be meditative and calming, while enjoying the thrill of chasing waves with a boogie board is an exhilarating experience under the watchful eye of adults. 

The simple act of daydreaming is an ideal emotional space that supports physical and emotional growth that prepares children for whatever is next for them. 

Creating the feeling of quiet, calming spaces for relaxation and reflection are integral to the regulation of individual children, and ultimately the group as a whole.

Providing a few oversized, weatherproof pillows, sheets or large pieces of material can be draped over tabletops, (unused) climbing equipment on rugs can be the perfect place to sky gaze, away from the high traffic zones of outdoor spaces. 

Finding the spaces in the garden that let the naturally occurring light through that dapple the landscape which create imperfect patterns and shadows are perfect to enjoy for snack or meal, or to while away the time with sensory activities like play doh, sand or goop in an outdoor tray.

Having the freedom to enjoy time and resources, either freely available within the elements or newly purchased may encourage new activities and interests, leading to deeper engagement and learning.  

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