Summer is on it’s Way – Parenting the Young Child – Birth to 7 

By Allison Reznik, MS

The young child is in a natural state of joy and movement.   How can you as a parent support that joy through the days of summer?  The young child is busy – walking, running, climbing, stacking, collecting. They are natural explorers! Summer is ripe with opportunities for play.  Children thrive from digging in the garden or sand, collecting what they find in a small bucket, observing the birds, puddle jumping, baking together, and making blanket forts on rainy days.  You can even bring some activities outdoors that are usually done inside, such as folding the laundry, eating, or reading together.

Here comes summer time and this one may be different for your family than years past.  Fewer camps are open this year, but even if your child is enrolled in camp, now is a good time to think ahead about how best to support joy and wonder this summer.  One foundation will be the rhythm your family creates. Your rhythm is a gift to your child and yourself and offers children the discipline they need by creating clear boundaries.  Rhythm is your schedule, but with the addition of a natural balance between action and peace and quiet.  The pillars of your daily rhythm will be sleep and meals, which assures everyone gets all the rest and nourishment their body needs.  In between, will be the expansive activities of free play, hikes, or digging at the beach (as social distancing allows).  It makes the days easier for you as the parent, too.Your child can then participate fully in their explorations of play and are more likely to flow through their day and not get tripped up by transitions. A tired or hungry child can even have difficulty engaging in their favorite activities, so keeping a rhythm helps to support daily family life.  When you create a daily rhythm for your family and stick to it, you will find your child is more cooperative and you will feel a greater sense of balance.  

The young child thrives from predictability and boundaries, that is how they feel safe and inwardly know that the grown ups are in control. This is discipline for your young child. It is from this place of safety that they can fully explore and play.  Rhythm gives children the time and patience they need so they feel calm and cared for. Giving your young child the gift of time allows them time for the exploration they need, whether it’s observing the ants marching up and down your walkway or moving their bodies to explore all that they can do physically.  

As you look toward summer, you may make changes to your existing family rhythm.  What is currently working well?  What needs changing for the summer, to support your family?  When changes are needed, expect four to five days of an adjustment period for your child.

Whether you are home all week with your child(ren) or the weekends are your family time, blow bubbles, let them run in the sprinkler, weed together in the garden.  Summer can bring us the joy of life’s simple pleasures and be supported by the rhythmic pace that helps the young child thrive.

Allison Reznik, MS is nursery lead teacher at Apple Blossom School and Family Center in Wilton and the mother of three sons. She recently completed the Waldorf early childhood teacher training program at Sophia’s Hearth.  Her Master’s degree in early childhood special education is from Bank Street College. 


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