From our counselors
Summer Counseling Information

Dear NPS families,

We have been grateful for the opportunities we’ve had to connect with your children this spring. While the format has been different, the relationships remained and were a valuable component of our days and our work. As our school year closes, we thought it might be helpful to send you some ideas and resources related to the summer stretch that lies ahead as well as provide you with some information about our summer availability.

Ideas for the summer

The summer is a delightful time to unwind, loosen up schedules, and recharge. However, with many camps and summer programs cancelled for the summer, we know that some of you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed by the lengthy days and weeks ahead. We wanted to share some suggestions that might provide some meaningful opportunities to relax, connect, and have some fun, while still creating some of the structure that children need to thrive. While softening what might have been a more rigid distance learning schedule is important, predictable routines help children feel secure and help households run more smoothly.

It might be helpful to start building your day around the anchors of regular meal and snack times along with a consistent sleep schedule and bedtime routine. Then consider which other day-to-day routines and activities are most meaningful to your family. Most importantly, involve your children in the conversation and planning. Find out what they are interested in, share your interests and ideas, and work as a family to create a plan for the summer in which everyone has some connection and buy-in.

Some ideas to consider:

  • Although you might not use a timed schedule for each day’s activities, you may still want to provide a general idea of what will happen before lunch and then before dinner each day.
     
  • Keep some variety in each day—have work/chore time, play time, down time, family time, etc.
     
  • Incorporate physical activities and outdoor time (perhaps in the morning when summer temperatures are lower).
     
  • Think about creative arts activities, science experiments and exploration, family projects and games, rest or quiet time and any appropriate skills practice recommended by your children’s teachers for the summer.
     
  • As a family, discuss what passions and projects you’d each like to explore. Perhaps your child has always wanted to learn about drawing, or the planets, or gardening. Have each person pick a passion project and support each other in achieving your goals.   
     
  • Think about ways to volunteer, donate, and be involved with the community even if it is online. This will provide purpose and structure for the summer, reduce stress, and help everyone in the family feel connected and useful.

Ways to maintain social connection

After a long time away from friends and busy distance learning schedules, the summer is a great time to strengthen the social connections between your children and their friends. You may have to get creative about this. Feel free to revisit the section “Helping Our Children Socialize Online” on our resources page for some general guidelines and tips. Some additional ideas might also include:

  • Plan a virtual dinner party: Each house can have the same dinner or connect by having a theme for the dinner. Then get together and dine in style. Or perhaps each family can choose a meal representative of their culture to prepare and tell friends about. 
     
  • Have a virtual sleepover: Have the kids jump into their PJs and then connect by playing a game or watching a movie together before “lights out” (computer off!). The group could even reassemble the next morning to check in.
     
  • Start a book club: Older students can take turns reading pages/chapters with one another while younger students can share their favorite books and retell the story to their friends.
     
  • Create care packages for friends: Work together as a family to create a package to be delivered to another family. You could include nice notes, a game, some art materials, or even photos.
     
  • Become same-city pen pals: You don’t have to live miles apart to write a note to a friend (or draw a picture if you’re younger). Mix things up by having a theme to different notes/pictures. For example, something about my house/my family/my neighborhood that you can share and tell about. You could even send a friend a scavenger hunt to complete!
     
  • Connect with your child’s buddy.  Your child and their buddy can enjoy playing a game together, doing a craft or reading.  This is a great opportunity for some cross-age level connection.

Resources

You may be looking for some more resources that are easy to access and quick to consume, and we offer a few below that come in a variety of formats. While not all of these address the summer in particular, they all do speak to the sense you may have of feeling overwhelmed, confused, and concerned about everything you are trying to juggle; and they offer reassurance, comfort, and ideas for managing this stress. 

PEP Podcast | Parenting with PEP During the Pandemic

Common Sense Media Podcast | Parent Trapped

Webinar recording | No Summer Camp? No Problem! Tips to Help Families During COVID-19

Parenting in Place: Helping Families Thrive in Challenging Times (a special live Masterclass series) | Wednesdays at 8:00pm, June 10-August 8 | Replays will be available for people who can’t attend live

Webinar | Screen Time This Summer: Changing Your Mindset From Limiting to Leveraging | Jun 11, 12:15-1:00 pm (If you register you receive a recording to listen on your own time.)

Webinar | The COVID Slide: Keeping Reluctant Kids on Track When “Summer Break” Is 6+ Months | June 15, 12:15-1:00 pm (If you register you receive a recording to listen on your own time.)

The New York Times | How to Host Your Family’s Own Personal Summer Camp

The Ross Center | Parents – It’s OK Right Now Just to Survive . . . You Don’t have to Thrive!

Children’s E-Book | We’re Going to be Okay

In addition to the resources we’ve mentioned above, we encourage you to revisit the counseling resources page we’ve developed this spring. Here you will find information on a variety of topics, including many of the topics addressed in this letter, in a number of different formats. Whether you need family game ideas or suggestions on self-care, we have a number of articles, tip sheets, and recordings gathered for you and organized by subject.

Looking ahead

As we all think ahead, it’s easy to feel anxious with the uncertainty of what the fall might hold.  This is particularly true for us adults but also likely for our students who have a much harder time articulating their feelings. Our initial response to uncertainty is often to feel overwhelmed, anxious, or powerless. Learning to refocus our sense of control and reframe how we view uncertainty can help us better manage and accept it.

Some general tips for both adults and kids include:

  • Accept and validate the feeling of uncertainty: It is discomforting, but it does not have to be overwhelming.
     
  • Focus on what you can control.
    • How will you want this summer to be remembered as a family? Start there and work backwards.
       
    • You may not know what will happen in September, but you can focus on what will happen this weekend. Pick small goals and short time frames as your focus.
       
    • You are also in charge of your emotions and your response to the situation. How you manage this is in your control even if the situation is not.
       
  • Keep grounded through routines. Having a sense of expectation each day brings a sense of control and comfort and gives you something to hold on to even during an uncertain time.
     
  • Keep your body and mind active, well fed, and well rested. Taking care of ourselves physically has a direct impact on our emotional and mental well-being.
     
  • Reframe uncertainty as an opportunity to connect with others and to grow.

Summer counseling availability

As with past summers, our role and our availability will shift as the school closes for summer break. In the summer we will not meet with students or conduct groups. We will have access to our email; however, we will check it with less frequency than during the school year. We appreciate your patience in awaiting a response from us and encourage you to reach out directly to Laura Primrose, Lower Division, or Susanne Rusan, Upper Division, should you need a more immediate response.

We realize changes and challenges do sometimes occur in the summer. Should your family benefit from counseling services, we have provided some referrals below to organizations that are providing both in-person and telehealth counseling services. You can also continue to access a list of regional emergency crisis numbers on our counseling resources page.

Jennifer Weaver and Associates

The Sibley Group

Georgetown Psychology Associates

Alvord and Baker

We hope for all of you a summer of health, joy, and refreshment.

Betsy Argintar, LICSW and Jeni Reklis, LPC, NCC