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SOUCHERAY: Summer can be time for enrichment

Summer is officially here, at least for all the children who ran from their buildings and embraced their delicious break last week. So how dare I suggest that you make a trip to a local retailer to purchase summer enrichment materials, or go to your local library's website and check hours and schedules for presentations that would be interesting for your family?

Summer can be a time to sit back, turn on the TV, play as many video games as possible, run around outside and become bored within two weeks. Or it can be a time of enrichment and engagement between you and your children, or your children and their nanny or daycare. Encouraging our children to grasp this break time as an opportunity to expand their minds, to review the material covered in this past year and to develop better reading or math skills is sitting before us at this very time. However, there is a window in which they will likely accept our suggestions before rebellion and arguments set in.

If you make this proposition a fun, but non-negotiable, experience, the likelihood that your kids will come to enjoy what they're doing is much better. Including them in planning a weekly field trip to a destination of particular interest to them will likely heighten their buy-in to your summer proposition and inviting a friend along will probably increase this, as well.

Encourage them to think about venues they think would be fun to visit, such as Como Zoo, Minnesota Zoo, Children's Museum, Gibbs Farm, the planetarium, the Minnesota History Center or the Science Museum of Minnesota. Or perhaps you could go to the beach, a large playground area or just stay home and order pizza.

Start with a calendar and block off any commitments you already have in place. Then post your library day and the day the puppet wagon visits your local park. Next, have each child take a week and plan an outing that will be enjoyed by all. Remind your children to plan a day that will be appealing to everyone in the family.

Use summer to help your children hold on to the learning they acquired this school year by reviewing a little each day with a workbook for reading and math for the grade they just completed. Making sure they do so will make the transition in the fall to their new grade, classroom, teacher and classmates much easier. You will find workbooks at local retailers or online at several websites designed specifically for this purpose. And then take time to enjoy your children as the amazing people you have helped them become.

Soucheray is a Woodbury resident and a licensed family therapist