The lazy days of summer seem like the perfect time to engage in playtime activities. My summer months at the office are particularly busy doing check ups as everyone is out of school. This means that I seem to see a lot of children in the 5-12 year group, and I enjoy getting to talk to them about their summer fun.
I have suddenly realized that many of the children in this age group seemed to have “missed” some key milestones in child development, which I think most of us adults learned during the lazy days of summer. I think learning to ride a bicycle and learning how to swim are two MUSTS of child development. While not all children will want to one day participate in a swim team, or a bike race, being able to swim and pedal a bicycle are life long skills. Who knows, with the price of gas we may all be heading back to bicycles as preferred transportation, at least for short distances.
At the same time I have noticed a fair number of parents who are concerned about their young children’s motor development. This is the 2-4 year old group where I am sometimes amazed when the parent of a 3 year old tells me that their child “does not jump high enough”. What? How about getting out the jump rope again, and drawing hopscotch on the sidewalk to practice hopping and jumping. These are free exercises that can help boost coordination while having fun together. What about learning to skip and to balance on a beam (doesn’t have to be at gymnastics) a two by four in the back yard or park works just as well. Learning to pump a swing is another. I can remember how proud I was when I mastered that skill (makes me smile, even today).
So while the last days of summer are here, make a list of not only summer reading, or computer skills that your child needs to finish, but of some of those childhood milestones as well. Hop, skip, jump rope, ride a bike, learn to swim. College applications might start asking about those milestones one day too? Stranger things have happened.