It was a tough year for teachers, parents and an even more trying year for students. Due to the pandemic the quality of learning and teaching took its toll.
What can parents do to keep their kids in a learning mode so when school begins in the fall, their children will have a running start? Here are 30 reminders for parents to do during the summer months. Even if parents did just a few, that would help.
1. Enroll your kids in summer recreation programs, summer school and/or a boys and girls club.
2. Make sure you always know where your kids are. Falling in with the wrong crowd could set them back.
3. Get to know the friends of your kids.
4. Keep books on hand for your kids to read. Most garage sales have numerous books for sale at super reasonable prices. Visit the new Four Pines Bookstore in Bemidji.
5. Regularly do things together with your kids.
6. Make sure they get eight or more hours of sleep.
7. Have them do something for someone else.
8. Remind them about how important it is to graduate from high school.
9. Get your kids into the habit of setting goals. Goals can merely be a list of things to get done each day or each week.
10. Ask your children what they would like to do in life. Talk a little bit about it and then see if you can relate what they see themselves doing in the future and what they do in school. Help them find the connection.
11. For a change of pace, find a large piece of paper and cut it up so it looks like a puzzle. Make about 10 to 15 pieces. Write something on each piece that the family likes to do. Now put the puzzle together. Families are kind of like a puzzle. We all have different likes and dislikes but we come together to make a whole.
12. Help your kids to look at learning as being an adventure. What will they discover today that they didn’t previously know?
13. Some evening after it gets dark, sit outside and see how many different sounds you can identify. Do it for several nights and compare sounds.
14. Spend a day at the county fair. Try to go on a day when some judging of animals occurs. Be sure to visit the 4-H exhibits, fire tower, old schoolhouse and pioneer cabin.
15. Begin thinking about doing something special on the last day of summer vacation.
16. Give your kids a history lesson. Get out some old photos of your family, talk about who they are and make sure you have the names of the people in the photo on the backside.
17. On some rainy day, put a puzzle together. Try to develop a strategy. Make sure you finish. Putting puzzles together is a good test of resilience and tenacity.
18. Have your kids write a special note to their teacher(s) or special friend or relative. They can make their own card.
19. If your child was struggling in school, now is the time to work on their confidence level. The No. 1 reason why kids leave school is lack of confidence. A pat on the back is one of the best rewards you can give kids.
20. Take a walk in Lake Bemidji State Park. Stop at the visitor center. Participate in one of the many programs offered at the park.
21. Visit the art galleries and museum in town. We have some of the best in northern Minnesota. Go to Art in the Park. Bagley also has one.
22. Usually kids don’t like to write but it is an excellent exercise for keeping the brain active. Try to have your kids write something at least once a week.
23. If your kids go shopping with you, have them guess how much something will cost; compare prices. Let them guess what your total bill will be.
24. If you take a vacation with your kids, put some activities in a bag and have them draw out something every hour or so.
25. Probably the best thing you can do is limit computer and TV time. Just tell the kids to go outside and play.
26. Give your kids a chore to do everyday.
27. Bake something together. Have kids read the recipe or help measure things.
28. About a week before school begins, have kids begin getting up on time and going to bed on time.
29. Limit the amount of sugar in their diet. Make them aware of foods that are loaded with fructose and corn syrup.
30. It has been a hard year for everyone, especially students. Have fun this summer and if you can connect fun with learning, your kids will do better in school next year.
31. One bonus activity: Be sure and watch the Summer Olympics. Remind them that this is the way our world should act all of the time— in harmony, working together in peace. We can do it. We can start by respecting one another.
Riddle: What do you call a dog relaxing on a summer beach? (Answer: A hot dog. Don’t forget to eat a hot dog this summer. A summer without a hot dog is not a summer. They taste better in front of a baseball game.)
Watch for the 100% entry in the Red Lake and Bemidji parades.
John R. Eggers of Bemidji is a former university professor and area principal. He also is a writer and public speaker.