Summertime is usually an exciting time for young people – completion of Cambridge exams, graduation, spending long days at the beach with friends, and eventually making plans for the upcoming school year. But in the midst of the COVID-19 global pandemic crisis, “School’s out for the summer” can potentially take on a whole new and different meaning.
It’s too soon to fully understand the impact that the pandemic has had on everyone, but most especially on young people. However, we must acknowledge that our youth may have experienced strong feelings of abandonment and loneliness as a result of cancellation of end-of-year events and summer plans during the summer of 2020 and now, very possibly again in 2021.
The “lockdown” of 2020 instituted health-related protocols such as wearing masks and the inability to meet and interact socially with friends and peers. Without the daily structure and social exposure that school and normal summer activities invite, it became necessary for young people to rely heavily on social media and “virtual” meeting sites like Zoom for staying connected to their friends. However, we know that being physically active and engaging in meaningful activities with friends and peers can help to prevent feelings of pressure, anxiety, and stress. Activities such as art, dance, drama, or any out-of-doors activities can have a positive impact on a child’s ability to maintain emotional regulation and sleep – which are the basics of good wellbeing. In addition to encouraging free play and unstructured learning, it is beneficial to, when appropriate, help prevent summer learning loss.
With the rollout of widespread COVID vaccination, we are hopeful that some summer programmes, with appropriate safety precautions, may be re-opened. If approved, this year’s summer activities should focus on reviving social connections and restoring a sense of well-being because these types of youth and summer camps play an important role in the lives of children. Camps should promote and support the social, emotional, and physical development of children. Camps should also provide opportunities for children to try new activities, to develop relationship and social skills, and to engage in healthy exercise.
If COVID-related restrictions do not permit summer programmes, then you can help your child to celebrate the end of the school year and the beginning of Summer Staycation – even though it might not feel like much of a change from the day-to-day routine. You can create your own “Summer Camp” by helping or encouraging your child to do something fun every day. To help you get started, here are some suggestions for fun things to do with your child while on Staycation in Bermuda.
There is no shortage of opportunities to get outdoors in the summer. So whether your young person prefers camping or spending time at the beach, going outside and into a natural setting like Spittal Pond is a critical factor in not only enjoying the summer, but also improving mental health—for your child and you! Grab a towel, pack some dry clothes, take along sandwiches or easy snacks, and be sure to take plenty of water. A simple lunch always tastes better when you are outdoors!
Get Physically Active
Exercise and other physical activities are an important part of self-care. Beyond the physical benefits of exercise for your child, movement has been shown to decrease anxiety and depression. It’s unfortunate that most youth are not exercising enough. With the freedom of an open schedule, incorporating healthy activities into one’s schedule, such as daily walks, yoga, and swimming, are all fantastic activities that can boost your child’s mental health. Start a new habit of doing 30 minutes of outdoor exercise, every day, with your child – and both of you will benefit!
YouTube is filled with child-friendly projects. Children can watch several videos of art projects, then pick one that best fits their interests. To prepare for a range of art projects, stock up on art-related supplies, or look around the house for what you might have on hand. This is a great time to use up all those old crayons, old coloring books, and scrap paper! Also, be sure to designate an old sheet or large cloth as the official dropcloth for whatever surface is used for those messy art projects. It’s probably safest to designate a specific area in the house or even go outside for messier types of projects. Create a “frame” from pieces of colored paper and “exhibit” a new piece of artwork every week!
Work on a Charity Project
Whether you’re decluttering your home and then driving the Salvation Army or The Barn to drop off your unused household goods and still-usable toys, or making protective masks and dropping them off at local charity, completing a charity project focuses the family on doing something that is productive and meaningful. Ask your child what a good charity project might be to begin. You might be surprised at the ideas your child has!
Learn Something New!
School may be out for the summer but that doesn’t mean that children should stop learning. Learning is a part of life and summertime is the perfect time to help your child take on new and unfamiliar challenges and learn something new. Ever wonder about the names of the flowers and plants that you see everyday? Now’s a good time to learn! Naming what you see adds some fun to “just taking a walk”. Visits to see the exhibits at the Bermuda National Gallery or historical sites like Fort Hamilton or Royal Naval Dockyard can be a way to bolster your child’s education, even if you’ve been there before.