The current scene as I am typing and drinking tea is this: My husband is downstairs building a tower out of packaged up toilet paper rolls with the kids. We plan to go to an indoor swimming pool later and meet with some friends. My daughter has already drawn a map to the pool and explained it.
“Hey mom! We’re shredding paper!” cries my daughter. I hear the whirring of the paper shredding machine. This is the “official” day of summer for the kids.
Right now, they act as if school never happened. The world is at their finger tips and they are chocking it full of play and adventure minute by minute. The routine is already broken. One has not eaten breakfast. Both are still in their PJ’s. They slept in until 8 am! Yes, summer has arrived for them.
My mind is not yet adapted to the summer life. There are still some “official” items of business left for teachers to do in the next day or two. My summer begins in couple of days. For decades, my summer has always meant a list of fun that I always meant to do but never had time because it was eaten up by work. I could polish my toe nails, drink tea and scout out my garden, stay up late and sleep in, redecorate, write, bike for 25 miles a day, etc. Summer has changed meaning now.
This year summer is a transition time for us. For next year, my daughter will be in kindergarten. She will be mostly in a general education classroom. She will have a brand new school she’s never seen before. She will be going to school all day and every day. She will be going year round. This means summer ends August 5. We have eight weeks of summer.
I feel a little bit like my summer is the story of The Parable of the Talents. It’s a Bible story where the Master gives each servant a certain number of talents then goes away on a trip expecting each one to DO something with the talent they have been given. For some reason, I have always pictured the “talent” in this story to be money. But the word talent I daresay is more a gift given by the Master. Two of the servants have doubled or tripled their talents. One servant buries it in the ground and gives it back. The master tells the first two – “Well done!”. The last one, the one who basically did nothing, he calls “worthless”. It gets worse but I won’t get into that. The point is the giving of the gift. Receive it well and don’t waste it.
Like no other summer, this one brings a gift of crucial transition time. Transition for us means being sensitive to this “in the meantime” part of this journey until it’s time for kindergarten. This is thinking, wishing, preparing, and maintaining “kidship” time so that we are ready and willing to take kindergarten on time. Each day of summer will count invaluably toward preparing my daughter for a total turnaround in her life. Summer’s gift of transition time is here.
My list is endless as far as “to do’s” and more than ever I am challenged to really prioritize and weigh in the value. As a teacher, we remind parents to take them to the library, read to them, cook with them, have play dates, keep a journal, etc. So how does it all pan out into eight weeks of summer? I don’t even have a prepared visual schedule. As I weigh in the possibilities, there are certain musts that might just be all the summer we have time for.
We will play. That in a nutshell is huge. The sky is the limit on both growing socially and emotionally as well continued foundation building. Just play time alone is accomplishing much. I want to play new things and expand on the old play schemes. She’s come so far and she is just getting started at the same time.
I will read social stories to her written by yours truly. I want her get acquainted with the concept of kindergarten. They may not start out once upon a time but they sure will have a “happily ever after” attitude threaded throughout. If she could learn to read them because they will be of early emergent style- then wonderful! I have worked with her on reading as well and put my masters degree in reading to use.
She will have therapy. Her therapy is one of the “schools” away from school. Though she calls it the “play place” due to the happy, lively, and warm environment. It is once a week which makes it scheduled and routine. It will help smooth out the expected “wrinkles” of this upcoming transition.
I will follow her lead. Many times, my kids have their own ideas and I wind up chasing them around and I try to keep up. There are things to make. Flowers to grow. A bike to ride somewhere. Swinging to do. Tea parties and lemonade stands to have. In following her lead, I am validating what she already knows and praising her for the risk taking she is willing to perform.
I wish to provide new learning through unique experiences. My daughter’s schema is one of her strengths. She soaks in new experiences. Sometimes it is with kicking and screaming. Oh too quickly do I recall the time she rode a horse for the first time. The first time she saw the Nutcracker she covered her ears the whole time and insisted on leaving at intermission. Yet, she remembers and she is richer for it. So we may try the circus? How about a baseball game? Shall we consider an orchestra concert for children? A play? Maybe all of the above?
So much I long to do and just the gift of summertime to do it. Transitioning time until kindergarten will fly by just like each school year does for me. Yet, I do want to look back and call it a “well done” summer.