The Children of Summer

 In Early Childhood Education

Michael Reisman, M.Ed.
Director, HCYMCA Early Childhood Education

As we creep up on the front door of July, many families are beginning to adjust to new routines and breaks in old routines.  Some manifest in weeks away, time at camp, weekends down the shore, or active days at home with mom or dad.  Whatever your summer plan, the HCYMCA early childhood leaders urge all to keep summer safety close in mind: safe sun and water education.

At our HCYMCA Early Childhood Camps (and all other HCYMCA summer programs) we require parents and guardians to provide sunscreen from home as well as written permission for teachers and counselors to help children apply it.  We erect shade tents and pop-ups in our outdoor play areas in addition to offering water play for fun cooling off.   The World Health Organization provides a concise page of sun protection tips at this link: http://www.who.int/uv/sun_protection/en/.

Whether you are at the beach on LBI or visiting your local swimming hole, families need to be aware of children in the water at all times.  The values to set for your family are to keep eyes on the water, swim where there are lifeguards, and learn to swim.  What better place to do that than the Y?  That’s why the HCY Child Learning Center encourages all its Pre-Kampers to sign up for weekly swim lessons as part of Pre-Kamp enrollment.  Learning to swim significantly decreases the likelihood of drowning.  If you are reading this, you are on the HCYMCA web-page, where you can find lots of information on our instructional swim programs and their importance to water health and safety – Learn More

Finally, take advantage of what nature has to offer this time of year, and provide opportunities for your children to explore gardens, meadows, woods, tide pools, sea life and wildlife (safe wildlife).  Our world is chock full of authentic learning opportunities that your child will never, ever forget.  I am inspired by the late Rachel Carson, who wrote:

“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement…A lizard beguiles endlessly…In the sand dwell secret things like ghost crabs, which live in little pits at the edge of the sea…Up on the sand dunes, stinging hot, it seems like the very edge of the world…The quiet woods path, carpeted in silvery green, feels deep and springy on a rainy day.”

In her piece Help Your Child to Wonder (Companion, July, 1956), Rachel Carson, famous for her environmental treatise Silent Spring, wrote about her experiences exploring nature on the coast of Maine with her four-year-old nephew Roger.  Through his senses, she rediscovers the wonders of nature.  Through her companionship on their journeys, he learns the natural science of plants and shallow sea life.  I encourage you to check it out here: https://training.fws.gov/history/Documents/carsonwonder.pdf

I am reminded of my very favorite NJ summertime activity: sunrise on the beach.  Maybe this year will be the year I bring my young family.  See you in September!

Michael Reisman, M.Ed. is Director of Early Childhood Education for the Hunterdon County YMCA.  mreisman@hcymca.org  908-483-4623

For information regarding Round Valley Child Learning Center Programs call 908-236-0055, ext. 4605.  For the YMCA Milford Preschool, 908-995-9107

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