Summer Packing? - Take advantage of this opportunity!
My goodness- what a wild year we’ve had! Despite the hardships remote learning brought on, our kiddos were resilient, and each grew in their own way! Undoubtedly, now that we can travel safely, everyone is ready to pack their summer bags and get away for a bit! Packing a summer bag is the perfect opportunity to help your child develop their executive function skills.
Executive function skills are mental and life skills! They help us plan, organize, initiate, self-monitor emotions and impulsivity, and help us reflect on our actions and thoughts. We all rely on these skills! More importantly, strong executive function skills correlate with student achievement.
So how can we help our kids “wire” these neural pathways in an organic way? Ask your child to pack their own bag! But, how? They will forget something! Do not fret! Here are a few tips:
Schedule time to pack ahead of time
Ask them to create a checklist of what they need (either electronic or handwritten)
While they get ready one morning, ask them to jot everything they use by their sink, i.e., toothbrush, deodorant, toothpaste, retainers, etc.
Ask them to walk to their shower and verbalize each step they do. As they walk through each step, they should jot down what they use to get into and out of the shower and everything they use in the shower.
Pack these supplies last- the night before or the day of!
To pack clothes?
Look at a calendar together- Count how many days and nights he/she will be gone - write it down!
As you look at the calendar, discuss and note every activity they are likely to engage in - swim? Hike? Etc.
Check the weather
Ask- how many everyday outfits will they need? Will they do laundry?
Layout each everyday outfit one at a time - this includes socks, underclothes, etc. (pro-tip- put each outfit in a ziplock bag separately and have them label the ziplock bag with the day they will wear the outfit)
Then- move to each activity- go through their self-created list and have them pack an outfit for each additional activity i.e. swim trunks, hiking shoes, etc.
Have a catch-all list or whiteboard at hand to have them jot anything else that comes to mind that they use daily - i.e. water bottle, chargers, etc.
Ask them if they’d like your support checking their lists. If they have forgotten to include something, ask them a question rather than remind them; for example, if they have forgotten a towel, ask, "how will you dry yourself?" Questioning rather than telling them what they have forgotten helps them develop their inner dialogue to helps them problem-solve.
Not only will this act build their executive function circuits, but they will also feel a sense of accomplishment, strengthen their independence, and in the process, mature. Our brains will develop accordingly to how it’s used! Give your child the opportunity to practice their executive function skills.