Learning For Life

Oh, To Be A Kid On Summer Break. Oh, To Need Ideas …

It’s hot and humid, and we’re all tired and cranky. But if there are kids involved (and even if there aren’t) and you’re looking for something to get you through what’s left of the summer before school starts, check out my list below. (The funny thing is, even though it’s a few years old, it still applies. I guess some things never change.) And who knows, some of them just might have you feeling like a kid again, too.

When I suggested to Black that we have a checklist or menu of items to amuse or, at least, occupy kids over the summer (something that almost every parent with kids home on summer break searches for every year), I thought my work was already done as I'd pull out the list I created years ago for my daughters. Except that I forgot it had been on a computer that no longer exists, and although a copy might be somewhere in a stack of filing, I'd have to start over. Which turned out to be a good thing …


Why? Because it made me stop and think about what would be the most effective – and memorable – activities to include. Please keep in mind these worked for me, and I offer them as food for thought but know there are so many fun things to do with kids over the summer

  1. Calm Down & Cool Off
    Some of my best summer memories (as a kid and as a parent) are the screams of happiness and fun that can only happen at a pool. There's just something about the combination of sun and water that never gets old. When my girls were growing up (in Texas, where the heat and humidity can be oppressive), we'd take advantage of the extended summer pool hours most days as it'd provide a break that the girls and I would look forward to all day. (I miss those days – not only the time with them but also because I was able to read several books every summer by the pool.)
  2. It's Time To Get Cooking
    Most kids like to eat (even the finicky ones) and, when given the opportunity, love to "play" in the kitchen. Yes, it requires different recipes for different ages and skill levels, but just a few minutes on the internet will give you a wealth of cooking ideas as well as lists of cookbooks for kids. The best part is that besides getting the kids involved in the planning and preparation, it's a great way to "teach" them other life skills, such as putting together a shopping list and figuring out a budget.
  3. A Summer Break For Your Wallet
    Great summer memories and adventures can be FREE. Most museums and historical sites have free days (or nights), and even those that charge a fee usually have reduced children's ticket prices. And every town and city has so many (FREE) places to explore or spend time – whether it's parks, gardens, libraries, farmer's markets, or even just a new area of town – that you'll need to start a list of everything you'll want to do. And for those that like to ride bikes, you can turn an ordinary bike ride around the neighborhood into an adventure by exploring someplace new (especially if you're able to transport your bikes).
  4. Turn Boredom Into Productive Projects
    Who says you can't have fun and be productive at the same time? Almost every summer when the girls were growing up, we'd (whether all together, individually, or sometimes the girls working together insisting that mom not get involved) do a bedroom clean up and clean out. It became a summer project where they could do a little or a lot at a time, going through things to either tidy up, throw out, donate (a great way to "teach" about charity), or their favorite, sell at a garage sale. Which then became another project … such as making signs, setting up sales tables, and having a lemonade stand (ours always benefited The Make-A-Wish Foundation).
  5. Remember To Leave Time To … Do Nothing
    I went from being a stay-at-home mom to being a single mom that worked from home, so the time I had available for the girls over the summer changed considerably over the years. And while it taught them to respect and appreciate my time, more importantly, it allowed them time to simply be kids. Whether to "chill" (sorry, couldn't resist) or learn how to amuse themselves vs. always being spoon-fed a buffet of things to do. Kids can be amazingly resilient and, if given the opportunity, will find things that they enjoy doing – whether reading, spending time with their friends, or finding creative things to do (such as when my youngest daughter made a "school room" with her stuffed animals being the students and herself as the teacher). I know from my own experience that kids can come up with things you could never dream they'd do. But without the time for them to dream, you'll never know.
This list was written with kids in mind. Initially, since my girls are now 18 and 22, it was a bittersweet reminder of summers long gone. But as I looked at activities for kids you can do this summer (both inside and outside the house) , I realized many of these things apply to kids of all ages … so, consider remembering the kid in yourself and choosing something on the list for yourself this summer..

For our general thoughts on the "mindset" of summer, check out A Summer Rerun?

People have told us they're using our sisterly banter to start conversations with others (family, friends, and even in classrooms), so Black created "Conversation Starters".

No one likes to feel out of control, unprepared, and scared. But as Red will tell you, life can change in an instant (whether it’s a crisis impacting many or one that seems very personal). She’ll also tell you that when everything seems so negative, it’s difficult to have a positive mindset (or even a non-emotional perspective) …



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In some ways, it seems like decades ago that my husband got fired, in other ways it seems like yesterday. I felt then so many of the same emotions that people are going through today due to the coronavirus. I was so scared. And unprepared. At the time, I thought he'd work for the company where he had been for years until he retired, and by then we'd have a second home and would live happily ever after. I never thought anything would change that plan. Everything was perfect, until my life, literally overnight, became a living nightmare.


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Yes, and as I told you at the time … you needed to calm down. I said that a lot. Still do. Anyway, I remember telling you to take a deep breath … and that you would get through it. And, you did. Although you constantly questioned whether you had the ability to do so.

THE CONVERSATION STARTERS
  • Your life can change in an instant. Can you be prepared? How can you plan for the unknown?
  • What are other unplanned life events?

People have told us they're using our sisterly banter to start conversations with others (family, friends, and even in classrooms), so Black created "Conversation Starters".


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I’ll admit that I hate technology and prefer to keep my ostrich head in the sand. But although I’ve slowly gotten better and try not to immediately default into freakout mode, all this talk about Artificial Intelligence (AI) not only confuses me but scares me. It reminds me of the 1968 movie “2001 A Space Odyssey,” the computer named HAL, and the potential of machines to harm vs. help us. (Yes, I’m being a bit dramatic, but then again, maybe not …)

Black and I have talked about how it can be used to help solve some of the world’s most challenging problems, like cancer, but wherever there’s opportunity for good, there can also be bad actors. And it’s all happening so incredibly fast as it seems like there’s some new development almost daily, and I don’t want to have to understand it, let alone learn how to use it.


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It is already impacting society, and although many people play with it like a toy, early adopters see its value as a powerful tool – for good and evil. It does not help that the “Godfather of AI”, as well as one of the creators of ChatGPT (a leading AI system where users can pose questions), are warning us of the potential dangers of the technology and the need to slow things down and have guardrails in place.

It is critical to remember that denial does not change reality.

AI will become increasingly important for businesses that want to stay competitive and will dramatically impact the labor market by automating some tasks. But, it will mean critical thinking skills will be more important than ever. And, as AI becomes more integrated into our personal lives, it will be essential for us to understand the basics – both what it can and cannot do.

THE CONVERSATION STARTERS

  • What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)? How does AI “learn” (get its information)?
  • Does AI scare or excite you? Why?
  • What are the benefits of AI? What are the challenges or risks associated with AI?
  • Do you think AI will impact you personally and/or professionally? If so, how do you plan to be prepared?

People have told us they're using our sisterly banter to start conversations with others (family, friends, and even in classrooms), so Black created "Conversation Starters".

Sometimes it takes a celebration to get us to stop and think about something. Hopefully, Celebrate Diversity Month will get all of us to think about diversity differently. Especially since too often people focus on differences and who’s “better” instead of realizing that different is … merely different.

Plus, as Black points out below, wouldn’t it be boring if there were only two flavors of ice cream?



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Growing up on Long Island in a Jewish home, I didn’t think twice about my best friend (who’s still a close friend) being Italian, although we did have different cultural and religious beliefs. And although we lived close to New York City, it wasn’t until I went to college in North Carolina that I met a Black person (and a Southerner, no less). She and I quickly became good friends and laughed at the fact we had the same last name, but that’s where the similarities ended. Yet, I had never really thought about diversity, or to be honest, even heard of the term, until you had us working on Career & Technology Education (CTE) curriculum, and we did a soft skills worksheet on it. That’s when I discovered that “diversity” was actually a “thing”, although lately, it seems to have become a political topic .

But once I was aware of it, I realized how much I learned from being friends with people who have different perspectives and experiences than I do. Of course, having a sister who at times seems more like a Vulcan, likes to push me outside my comfort zone, and makes me look at things from different viewpoints, has made me a better person – both in terms of newfound knowledge as well as a greater appreciation for how and why others may see things differently .


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Vulcan or otherwise, there were things to learn from Spock, which highlights the importance of diversity. In the broadest context, diversity introduces us to unique experiences and perspectives. In the workplace, it is often referred to as Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI), but I will stick with diversity (for now), which includes not only race, sex, and age, but also gender and sexual orientation, disabilities, religious beliefs, and socioeconomic status, and I am guessing there are other differentiators. I think it is as simple as accepting that not everyone is alike. (How boring would that be? It would be like only having vanilla and chocolate ice cream.) And recognizing that differences are not right or wrong; they are differences.

From a business perspective, the more you look at things from different angles and perspectives, the more fully (and more creatively) you will see things, which in turn, helps you better understand and provide value to your target market.

I know I said I would not get into equity and inclusion, but I love this quote from Vema Myers, “Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance.”

THE CONVERSATION STARTERS

  • Define diversity. What does diversity mean to you? What are its challenges and benefits?
  • The concept of diversity in the workplace encompasses acceptance and respect. But that also applies to your personal life. How can your actions and behavior help or hinder the situation?
  • Are your friends and workplace associates a diverse group of people? If so, what have you learned from them? If not, why not? And would you be willing to proactively get to know people outside your "usual” circle?
  • Do you think “diversity” is seen differently by different generations? Why?