5 Fun Ways to Stimulate Your Grandchild’s Creative, Social and Emotional Skills This Summer
By Rosie Linder, CEO/Founder of Peppy Pals
As the school year nears the finish line, children anxiously dream about swimming pools, days at the beach or lake, family vacations and other fun-filled promises of what summer brings. Unfortunately, in today’s competitive world, educators seem to advocate for ongoing academic education throughout the summer, robbing children of their so-called “summer break.” Overlooked is the need for children to rest their minds, play, explore and socialize, all essential elements to child development.
This view of less stress, more mindful free time has proven to be extremely effective. For instance, in his documentary film, “Where to Invade Next?” American filmmaker, Michael Moore unveils the reason behind Finland’s top of the world ranking school system which boasts only a 20-hour instructional week and the shortest amount of school days in the entire western world. Their educational infrastructure is molded from the belief in the importance of socialization, play, rest, happiness and learning to treat others with respect, deflecting some of the academic pressures that exist for children in countries such as, well…America.
While we can’t simply change the American education system, we can learn from countries at the top of the educational leader board. It is possible to provide your children with mindful thinking and mental stimulation, without the academic pressure. Summer presents an opportunity for parents to introduce children to new experiences, emotional development and creative learning which may not be available to them during school—all while strengthening the parent-child bond.
Here are five fun ways to entertain your children this summer, while stimulating their creativity, enhancing their social skills and developing their emotional intelligence:
- Parent and child play dates – Keeping your children socialized with other children is important for emotional growth and developing social skills like mindfulness, sharing, empathy and compassion. Coordinating play dates where both child and parent attend can provide an opportunity to encourage appropriate social skills. Scavenger hunts, learning to share, and taking turns when playing are great team exercises that teach these skills. Lisa Firestone Ph.D. sites, “Research has shown that emotional intelligence or EQ ‘predicts over 54 percent of the variation in success (relationships, effectiveness, health, quality of life),’” and that, “Young people with high EQ earn higher grades, stay in school and make healthier choices.”
- Provide new, hands-on learning experiences – Visit museums, parks and zoos where you and your children can learn about history and experience nature and animals through a hands-on, first-person experience. Let them explore in their own way and also discuss the experiences with them. Open up their creativity by buying them a canvas and colors and let them create paintings of nature while at a park or at home after a trip to one of these establishments. This will teach them to capture mental snapshots of their experiences and then interpret them in the way that they saw them. You can make it an extra exciting experience by allowing them to present an exhibit of their artwork to the family.
- Introduce children to new forms of physical and mental exercise, such as Yoga or meditation – The school year makes it challenging to explore and participate in mental and physical activities that are outside the schoolyard. You never know what they may develop a passion for. Yoga can have a positive impact on children by helping them develop body awareness, build concentration and increase their confidence, among other benefits. Meditation can provide notable improvements in brain functioning and accelerate development of emotional intelligence.
- Get involved in fundraising events and volunteering – Engage the entire family in walks for causes or other events. Ideas include volunteering at community events, visiting retirement/nursing homes, baking cookies that can be sold for charity, or taking toys or books to children’s homes or hospitals. All are great ways for children to be mindful of how others live or the challenges others face while teaching them appreciation for what they have.
- If you notice your child is under stimulated and eager to learn, you can introduce fun, yet educational games or apps into their technology time – Children will always enjoy playing games, so why not make them fun and educational? Remove the element of competition, scoring and stress from tech time and introduce your child to apps that offer playful learning experiences. Although we don’t want our kids to sit behind screens all summer, they will still have a hunger for their devices and choosing fun, educational games can be of benefit. It is up to you to set screen-time limits for your children.
These suggestions will offer you the opportunity to incorporate learning and development through fun and playful summer activities. Your kids will grow, learn and gain so much motivation, while having fun and getting the academic break that they need.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rosie Linder is the founder of Peppy Pals, an award-winning EdTech platform developing apps and e-books that teach children about empathy, emotions and problem-solving skills. As a mother of two based in Sweden, Linder recognized the need for children to be taught emotional skills that help them better understand their emotions and ways that parents can emotionally connect with their children in playful ways. As a result, Peppy Pals was created and quickly gained success with children, parents, GRANDPARENTS and teachers in Sweden. Today, Peppy Pals is available worldwide, including the U.S. Linder is also an economist from the University of Stockholm and winner of several entrepreneurship awards in Sweden. To learn more about Linder and Peppy Pals, please visit. www.peppypals.com.