Written by Betsy Wimbrow, Director of Education
Ah, summertime! There is nothing like long, languid days that stretch slowly into the evening, running barefoot in the cool grass while chasing fireflies, and biting into cold crispy watermelon, the juice dripping down your chin. Summer is a time to relax, to play, to spend time with family and friends, to explore, daydream, and wonder.
There is a growing body of evidence that these same activities are key to developing important executive functioning skills. In the article “Why Free Play Is the Best Summer School“, Jessica Lahey states;
“Unscheduled, unsupervised, playtime is one of the most valuable educational opportunities we give our children. It is fertile ground; the place where children strengthen social bonds, build emotional maturity, develop cognitive skills, and shore up their physical health.”
This is great news for parents and children alike! No need to fill our children’s days with structured activities or for entertaining our children all summer long. The more unstructured “free” time we give our children the greater their chances of developing critical problem-solving skills, confidence in taking risks, and essential self-regulating skills. If you worry about loss of academic progress, relax! A recent study failed to prove such a slide exists for most children. You can read the details of the study, ”New Research Casts Doubt on the ‘Summer Slide’” Youki Terada at edutopia.org/article/new-research-casts-doubt-summer-slide.
So, sit back with a cold glass of lemonade and let yourself – and your children – just be. Dr. Montessori said it best,
“Let the children be free; encourage them; let them run outside when it is raining; let them remove their shoes when they find a puddle of water; and, when the grass of the meadows is damp with dew, let them run on it and trample it with their bare feet; let them rest peacefully when a tree invites them to sleep beneath its shade; let them shout and laugh when the sun wakes them in the morning as it wakes every living creature that divides its day between waking and sleeping.” (The Discovery of the Child)
I look forward to seeing you as the summer comes to a close, whether it be at an orientation for new parents or parents new to the next level, at one of our community picnics, or on your child’s first day of school. You needn’t wait until then to be in touch. I welcome your ideas, questions, and conversation at any time.
Betsy Wimbrow is the Director of Education at Greenspring Montessori School. As Director of Education, Betsy provides support, guidance, inspiration, and continuing education to our staff, parents and other constituents in Montessori philosophy and best practices, as well as current child development theory. Betsy comes to us with 35 years of classroom experience and a great history of leadership in the Montessori community. She has experience leading programs in both the public and private sectors. Learn more about Betsy.