It’s fall, and kids have a summer-full of learning inside them. What’s more important than the “summer slide” of school skills is the fact that these are NEW people heading back to school. Summer gives a chance to restart.
However you spend your summer, kids are soaking up new experiences. They’re not the same as who they were last spring. The break is big enough to create a real break.
Breaks. We all need breaks. To reinvent. Refresh. Remember who we are, and discover who we are. Not who we were last year or last month, but who we are now.
Think about this proverb: “If you want to know where your heart is, look to where your mind goes when it wanders.” For children, where the mind wanders is called “Play.”
Regular schedules accomplish certain goals, but breaks are where our minds wander, where we encounter real life (good or bad) and where we are free from being judged by last year’s standards. For an adult, a break gives us the chance to remember or refocus our priorities. For kids, a break is a time to discover identity and make new leaps as it changes.
Without breaks, we just carry on. Carry on in our habits. Carry on with our judgments about a child’s abilities or behavior. Carry on without thinking. A child who’s been labeled as a troublemaker just continues that “I’m no good” mindset if there’s no break. A child who’s exploring new thoughts and friends can get stuck without a break.
A break can be an open door.
Breaks are essential for restarting life. And there are all kinds of breaks besides holidays from school routines and teachers. Our kids need breaks from us as parents, from the grip of regular friendships, and from constant sibling contact. Any of these can stifle kids without a few healthy breaks.
So if you’re the one who always puts your child to bed, trust your partner or a sitter to do it. Or see what happens when you separate siblings for a bit. Even a short break can help everyone realize we’ve been stuck in a rut.
It’s hard to see incremental changes when we live with kids day to day. “Look how they’ve grown!” aunts and uncles remark after a gap of time in seeing the kids. We also need to be saying: “Look how they’ve grown inside.”
Have you seen a child change into being “a new person” after a break or summer vacation? What types of summer learning do you see children do? Do you find it easy to see the present child, not the past one (from three months ago)?