By Karen Deerwester, Ed.S.
Summer in Florida is hot and it’s wet. You can complain all you want but surely it’s better not to hear complaining children’s voices. So, here are a few strategies to make those daily rainstorms happy teachable moments. Summer showers are kid-friendly experiences. The anticipation of puddle jumping and mud pies can make waiting through booming thunderstorms a little more bearable. But please do not venture out to play with children if there’s even the slightest possibility of lightning.
First, think like a child. Children do not worry about their hair getting wet and they do not believe sweating is an unnatural condition. Those are learned attitudes borrowed from their favorite adult role models. A few preschoolers might protest their first experiences with thick summer humidity while their parents are that rare breed of tenacious afternoon joggers. But the underlying parenting suggestion is the same. A little sweat, properly hydrated of course, is good for children.
Children are learning a life-long attitude about the outdoors from the way you respond to them. So whether you like South Florida summers or not, stay value-neutral in front of your child. Use the power of neutral descriptions. If you’re child starts whining, “Mommy, it’s so h�o�t!” You might say, “I feel it too. Let’s go check the thermometer” and ask your child to guess the temperature. Or, if your child says “I hate rain”. Talk about why rain is as important as sunshine.
In order to take full advantage of summer rain opportunities, you’ll want to be prepared with rain gear and a few great children’s books. The ordinary becomes extraordinary with some favorite gear. Jackets may be too heavy for rain play but boots are second to bare feet when stomping in the mud. And Gene Kelley knew a long time ago that dancing in the rain is more fun twirling an umbrella. Bathing suits also make perfect rain gear. Parents need some rain gear too- really you won’t melt!
A great collection of children’s books should be available to your child long before the rains begin. Reading about rain, rainy days, and rain silliness shapes your child’s perspective and your child’s experience. Books lead to new questions and new ideas. Build excitement about summer rain just as you would a trip to Disney. Try these or ask your librarian for her favorites:
- Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi and Ron Barrett
- Come On Rain by Karen Hesse
- Here Comes the Rain by Mary Murphy
- It’s Raining It’s Pouring by Ken Eagle
- Mud Puddle by Robert Munsch
- Rain by Peter Spier
- Splish Splash: A Book about Rain by Josepha Sherman
- Where Does the Butterfly Go When It Rains by May Garelick
For children to reach their fullest potential, they must use all of their senses. Today children are immersed are in an intensely visual world dominated by screen time. These beginning scientists, explorers, and writers also need to experience the power of observation. Books combined with experience leads to genuine understanding.
You can be a hands-on guide or simply create a child-centered opportunity. Let children feel the changes in the air after a rain. Air and earth smell different after a rain. Colors change too. The ground is soft. Worms come out and bugs go in.
Here’s a perfect time to pull out those science toys or create a few science experiments of your own. Check out a “Weather Station” kit to track wind, rain, and temperature at www.SteveSpanglerScience.com. Or, a “Disgusting Science” kit will show older children how to grow mold is available at www.Scholastic.com along with other interesting children’s books.
Good Old Fashioned Fun
Better than any other reason, rain is just plain fun – just like outside voices. Playing in the rain can be impractical and messy. It’s carefree and timeless – just like childhood. Playing in the rain feels daring like breaking the rules and playing hooky.
The rain is coming whether we like it or not. So quick, brush up on your rain songs. And know that if you teach your child to laugh at the rain, you’ll be teaching life-long optimism. His smile will be his umbrella rain and shine.
Karen Deerwester is the owner of Family Time Coaching & Consulting, writing and lecturing on parenting and early childhood topics since 1984. Karen is also the Mommy & Me director at The Ruth and Edward Taubman Early Childhood Center at B�nai Torah Congregation in Boca Raton.
The content available through the Site is the sole property of Family Time Inc., or its licensors and is protected by copyright, trademark and other intellectual property laws. Except as otherwise explicitly agreed in writing, Family Time Inc.-owned content received through the Site may be downloaded, displayed, reformatted and printed for your personal, non-commercial use only.