Summer Magic Starts with Unplugging from Our Normal Routines

Trudy Shulman Fagen, ACMT-BC, LMHC, School Counselor and Arts Director, Solomon Schechter School of Boston

Making the Most of Summer Down-Time

 “Summertime, and the living is easy…”(lyrics, George Gershwin)  Summer brings warmer weather, longer days and often the most precious commodity of all, time with our families.  Consider summer as a gift of“time out” from carpools, enrichment activities, less rushing to beat the clock on homework, sports practices and dance competitions.   Even for those parents who continue to work full days in these months, we enjoy the gift of day lit skies after work, and the possibilities of spending more time outdoors, whether it is working in the garden with your children, taking a run or playing catch.  The potential for quality family time unburdened by the hurried rhythm of schedules presents the space for something magical to happen.

At Solomon Schechter School of Greater Boston (SSDS), we educators spend much of the summer re-tooling and fine-tuning to make our school the most engaging, innovative and fertile center for learning it can be. The summer provides us time to meet together, re-design interdisciplinary studies, differentiation tools and re-structure support services so they best serve our students. Whether our students come to school in the fall as English Language Learners or with Sensory Integration Processing struggles, we will be ready to help them take root and grow as thinkers and doers, while nurturing their creative spirits. We envision the potential magic of learning taking place.

We also emphasize to our families that they can take advantage of the more relaxed demands of homework-free nights and longer days to create magical moments together. Here are some things we suggest:

Savor some conversation with iced lemonade on the porch with your children; make up bedtime stories as you gaze at the stars. Spend some time watching things grow; plant with your children, water their thoughts and feelings and watch them blossom. Let boredom happen. Feel the moment, and get down on the ground and play: materials are all around you, pinecones, sand, and that old car tire.

Even for those students who go to overnight camp, parents and siblings can focus on strengthening family relationships outside the normal means of communication. Think about sending more than the newsy email. Send a handwritten letter, or photos of your daily experiences. Communicate with a poem or drawing. Sending cute or funny postcards can feel more nurturing than an electronic communication, and kids love posting them by their bunk beds. When they return home, make sure to get updates on their more mature perspective. This is where you will find the genuine magic of summer.   

In the summer, we should aim to unplug. Technology is fabulous, but the screen times of adults and children are rising. Consider putting your phone away for designated “real time” communication. Can we challenge ourselves with a 1:1 proposal, that for every non work hour (or fraction thereof) that we spend at a screen, we also have to spend an unplugged hour with our families?  

Unplug with a good book. Summer reading is the only assignment we give our students at the Solomon Schechter School of Greater Boston, because we know how invaluable it is to keep reading all year. Talk to your children about their books. Read your own books, and let your children see you reading. Cuddle up somewhere together!  Consider starting a family read with a chapter each night. Planning a road trip? Stow away those iPads and select a family read on tape. Listen together to provide more food for conversation. Book sharing enriches the intimacy in your family as you share responses, thoughts and ideas.

For the families and teachers at Schechter, summer can be a time to recharge and re-imagine. The possibilities of summer are endless. As George Gershwin continues, “One of these mornings, you're going to rise up singing; then you'll spread your wings, and you'll take to the sky...”


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