If the littlest is off to kindergarten in the fall, the last few weeks of summer will be bittersweet. All too soon you'll be hugging just a little longer than usual, taking a deep breath, finding some encouraging words, and watching that little backpack go bouncing into the classroom.
Parenting young kids has this strange way of making time simultaneously go really quick and really slow. Some days we wake to greet a child who seems a year older than the night before and at the same time the week drags on forever.
Savoring life's journey seems even more difficult and important in our modern, everything-at-our-fingertips society.
In our busy lives we're accustomed to instant gratification and multi-tasking. The faster our lifestyles become, the more excruciating a child's pace can seem.
We could learn a lot from our children if we watched how they approach life's journey, rather than rushing them to our next destination.
The mindfulness and attention children use when completing a task helps form the brain connections needed to process new information. It's essential for problem-solving, critical thinking, and executive functioning skills.
When we allow children to take their time and focus on the process of completing a task, we offer the chance for growth across the developmental spectrum. By consciously joining in processes with them, we give our own minds and bodies the benefits of mindfulness.
Slow down and enjoy the journey
Thankfully there are some ways to help children maintain their “life is a journey approach."
Don't worry, there's no need to always let them buckle the car seat or tie their own shoes for the sixteenth time when you're running late.
The benefits of having kids in the kitchen are numerous. Following directions, reading a recipe, learning about nutrition, and gaining an appreciation for food are just a few of the reasons to set aside fear of sharp objects and make something delicious together.
If the thought of glitter everywhere gives you nightmares, take a deep breath and keep reading. As discussed in an NAEYC article “How Process Art Experiences Support Preschoolers," letting kids work with art materials in a creative, open-ended way is one of the best activities for growth and development. And it doesn't need to involve glitter.
Set your child up for success in school
Taking the last few weeks of summer to intentionally enjoy processes will make the transition to school easier for everyone. Here are some of the benefits of process activities:
- Improved social skills
- Emotional regulation
- Relaxed attitude
- Focused attention
- Language development
- Increased cognition
- Large and small motor skill development
The first day of school may seem far off, but it always comes too soon. Savor the small steps and you'll savor the entire season.