Thursday, June 26, 2008

Making the Most of your Time Together

Kids are like sponges, soaking up new thoughts and ideas, absorbing all kinds of information. They see the world through fresh, unfiltered eyes and their curiosity is contagious. Yet somehow, as they grow older, they begin to grow leery of museums and art galleries, anything that might be – that dreaded word – educational. The child who once got so excited about a field trip to the post office in kindergarten wouldn’t be caught dead in a science museum or a concert hall.

“It’s too much like school mom. I want to have fun on my weekends off.”

So what is a parent to do? Simple. Keep talking to your kids. Keep those ever-important lines of communication open. And look for opportunities to inform and educate your children without turning the conversation into a lecture.

For example, a recent trip to a local beach provided me with multiple opportunities to discuss a wide range of important topics with my thirteen year old. As we parked next to the Civic Center we noticed a little garden out in front with a sign welcoming visitors. As we strolled along the path, we read about each drought resistant plant and talked about what we could do to save water.

As we turned around, we caught sight of a beautiful restaurant with a curved roof that resembled the thatched roofs we had seen on a trip to Ireland. My son was almost too young to remember that trip, so we talked about the dying art of roof thatching and other interesting things we’d encountered in the “old country.”

A stroll down the side streets led us to a thrift shop and we talked about the need to help others and the good feelings we gain from donating to a worthy cause.

Stopping at the ice cream shop on the corner for refreshment, a few more steps brought us to the beach, where we sat down and enjoyed our ice cream while we watched the waves. No lessons here, just the warmth of the sun on our faces and the feel of the sand between our toes. Just another memory of time spent together, sharing our thoughts and feelings, learning about the world around us and learning about each other.

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