Childhood friendships can help define who we will become as adults. That may seem like a strong statement, but it is often true. And, since these friendships are so meaningful, parents will want to do what they can to keep their kids connected with their friends during the summer months.
Before the end of the school year, get in touch with the parents of your child’s friends. Share contact information and plan to meet periodically during the summer so your children can maintain their relationship.
Many local movie theaters plan special summer movies at reduced prices. Perhaps your families could get together after watching the movie and share an afternoon. This will allow the children to reconnect and provide time for the parents to get to know one another.
You can also plan play days if your children are young. A sleepover with school friends would be a great idea to help them stay connected. Girls could have a slumber party and boys could pitch a tent out in the backyard or vice versa, depending on your child’s interests. If you know the other family and get along with them, you may want to plan some activities where you meet up, for instance, going to the zoo. If you really like them and get along, you may want to consider a joint vacation.
Many families have a computer and an email account. If both families are computer savvy, exchange email addresses between families or connect through a child-safe site. Reiterate the importance of internet safety with your children and remain in the room with them to be sure they are adhering to those rules.
You can also find online games such as Club Penguin, Bean Babies, ToonTown Online, Neopets and Free Realms. These games are set up so that children are able to connect with old friends and maybe even make some new ones in a child-safe virtual world. If you’re unsure about allowing your child to play these games, start playing the games yourself and insist that your child can only play when you are also playing online.
In this day and age, many children and teens have a cell phone. Your child may want to spend the entire summer texting their friends. It is important to set some ground rules about using cell phones. You want to encourage your children’s friendships but you also want them to do things other than texting.
If neither family is interested in allowing their children access to cell phones just yet, remember that there is always ‘good ol’ Ma Bell’ or whatever telephone service you use. It may be acceptable to allow your children to speak on the telephone during their school break as long as they abide by agreed upon rules.
Finally, if your child is serious about staying connected with their school friends, you may even suggest that they send postcards or letters. Not only will they be able to keep in touch, but they will also improve their grammar and handwriting skills. In fact, you may want to require a certain number of notes or letters to balance out a specific amount of “talk time.”