Let Children Explore during their Summer Free Time

June 23, 2015

Well, the first week of summer vacation has officially passed for students in the Wilson County Public School system.

And that means those students are now children with a lot of time on their hands. Many of you parents started early in the spring signing your children up for camps – softball, baseball, soccer, etc. So yay! They are physically active. And we all know that’s essential to growing up healthy. And happier, too, since exercise releases all those feel good chemicals in our brains.

But down time is important too. Two of my fondest memories in childhood involved my free time. You know what I mean. When your mom had to call and call your name, and then you came home muddy and smiling. Or, you came to dinner dressed in your pink tutu and worried about… (I have to be honest. I don’t know what you’d be worried about with the tutu. I went home dirty and happy, tom boy that I was.)

I loved climbing up on the first limb in a tree and reading all afternoon. Sometimes I acted out the books. After reading about a cache - a hole dug in the ground to hide stuff – I hid the glass bottles I collected in my own cache. Mine was a hole in the side of a mostly dried up creek behind my house. The bottles stayed hidden there until I’d collected enough. Then my dad would take me to a local store to trade the bottles for money. My sister, brother and I all enjoyed a treat with the money.

As a young mother, I’d find sticks in my house. All over my house. Puzzled, I asked my sons if they knew what was going on. My younger son looked at me like I’d lost my mind. Obviously they were his toys. Duh, mom. And sure enough, I’d see him outside playing with sticks, pinecones – whatever was handy.

Physicians agree that free time is healthy for children. Free time opens up their minds, allows them to imagine what could happen. Our brains – especially the brains of children – are sponges, just waiting to soak up information.  As a young mother, I covertly planned education into our vacations. The aquarium, a museum and baseball game in Atlanta, caves and caverns in western North Carolina. The boys never knew what hit them. Until they got a little older.

They always enjoyed our family trips. You can learn at home, too, though. Have you ever laid on your back in your yard? Do it with your children. What do you see? Turn over on your stomach. What do you see now? Wonder is all around us. An opportunity for education is everywhere.

The Wilson County Public Library is a great place to take your children in the summer. Reading stimulates your brain. Every time you read, you get smarter. I have no idea if that’s actually true. But it makes sense and I’m committed to that philosophy.

So here, join me. Take your children to the library. Here are some books they have for young adults and children:

Young Adult Books
“Drawing Lab for Mixed-Media Artists: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun” by Carla Sonheim
“The Glass Arrow” by Kristen Simmons
“The Heir” by Kiera Cass
“Isla and the Happily Ever After” by Stephanie Perkins
“Monsters” by Ilsa J. Bick
“The Ring and the Crown” by Melissa de la Cruz
“The Shadow Prince” by Bree Despain

Children’s Books
“Alice Waters and the Trip to Delicious” by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
“Chips and Cheese and Nana’s Knees: What is Alliteration?” by Brian P. Cleary
“Listen, Slowly” by Thanhha Lai
“Sock Monkey into the Deep Woods” by Matt Danner
“Thursdays with the Crown” by Jessica Day George