5 Ways to Nourish Your Kids' Brains and Souls This Summer

Ah, summer! School is waning, and suddenly, parents everywhere are looking down the barrel of having their kids home for a few months. It can be terrifying and liberating all at once. No more packing lunches, early mornings, or frantic 10:00 PM homework announcements. No more after school clubs, dances, or band concerts. Yet on the flip side, you now have a wild pack of wildebeests on your hands for the next 3 months. They are prepared to eat everything in the house in milliseconds and dirty every article of clothing that they own in one day. They will be bored in a just a few days, and they will expect you to entertain them. I have put together a list of things that kids can benefit from learning over summer break.

1. Teach them how to prepare a meal that has significance to your family. Someday, when you are gone, or your kids live a long way from you, they will appreciate knowing how to prepare familiar comfort food. Even the littlest children can start helping with tasks like getting things out the fridge, setting the table, tearing up the lettuce, etc. Older kids can easily carry out advanced skills like chopping, peeling, mixing, kneading, boiling, baking, etc. Whether is mom’s chicken noodles or great grandma’s tamales, you will always feel good about teaching them about your family food.

2.    Teach them how to meditate. Meditation has tremendous effects on developing brains. Start slow, with brief meditation times, and work up to something longer. Consider setting up a ritual that you go through together each time to set the stage. You may consider letting the kids help pick and light a stick of incense and a candle, place cushions on the floor for sitting, and choose the music that will be played. Start with deep breathing and relaxation, then leave them in a space of quiet for a few minutes. Meditation time for kids should never exceed 15 minutes until they are teens.

3.   Instigate a family book club. There are so many wonderful books out there that a family can read together. Plan for book discussion times each week, and let everyone weigh in on their opinions and thoughts about the book. Make discussion time fun by making special snacks and brewing a pot of tea. Treat your children like equals as you talk together about the book. You will be blown away by their insights and wisdom.

4.    Teach them “The 4 Agreements.” If you have not read it yet, “The 4 Agreements” is a wonderful book by Don Migel Ruiz. Ruiz presents 4 basic agreements to make with yourself for a successful life. All kids should learn these principles early and learn how to put them into action in their lives.

5.    Teach them how to take care of the earth. Teach them about our planet, pollution, animal extinction, etc. Let them help instigate a family recycling program, and help them understand why it is so important. Take them on hikes with gloves and trash bags ready to clean up the trail as they go. Tune up everyone’s bicycles and ride bikes as much as possible to cut back on your family’s carbon footprint. There are so many tremendous ways that out kids can help us find a cleaner future for our planet, and it definitely starts at home.

Obviously, this is a short list that will get your wheels turning. I hope that you will find a million and one ways to educate your children this summer in ways that will feed your soul and theirs. To all of the parents who have kids getting out for the summer, may the force be with you!