Now that the elementary and middle schools in San Jose are ending, local parents are looking for easy, economical things to do with the kids. Sure, you can go to the beach, but that takes planning, not to mention gas money. Museums are great, but they can take up the whole day if you want to see everything. Amusement parks are fun, but they’re expensive and crowded, and should our kids really watch T.V. all summer? This is where all of San Jose can take a hint from the local home-school community, and create Daily Reading Hour for kids at home, and include a children’s Tea Time. Your tea party pantry can help a lot, especially if you keep simple shortbread cookies, bread and various spreads in it.
Reading Hour or Quiet Hour is a good thing to have in the afternoons, when it’s too hot to go outside, the kids are bored, and you don’t have any other plans. All that is needed is an adult in the home who can keep everyone safe and stop any sibling squabbles, a bookcase or box of age-appropriate books from the library, and a quiet couch, set of beanbags, floor pillows or chairs in an indoor or outdoor area with adequate shade or lighting, where the kids can lounge and read for a while. Soft, relaxing music from the radio, an iPod, CD player or other device, especially those “ocean waves” music CDs from stores like Target, can be a good addition. Give everyone some iced tea or ice water with lemon or a slice of fresh fruit in it, and let everyone chill out and read.
Follow up Reading Hour with Family Afternoon Tea – simply with iced tea (you can use a caffeine-free tisane, or real black tea with lots of ice to dilute it) and a few packaged cookies, crackers and cheese or other afternoon snack – where everyone sits down together and tells everyone else what they were reading and what they liked or didn’t like about the book. Spend just 20 minutes or so talking together, making sure the kids mind their manners, and you give everyone a relaxing break in the day.
Several kids need help with reading during the school year, and many local schools have cut down on classic literature, art, history, and life skills like cooking, first aid, and good manners. Many local kids also go through a lot of intensive summer school classes, and need time to unwind as much as the adults do! Do all of that at the tea table, casually reviewing reading, art, poetry, history and life skills at home. You can have your Reading Hour and Family Tea in the morning before you all leave, or in the evening when you all get home, or bring books and treats to a public park or garden. Change up the books in the bookcase or box every week or so, and by the end of the summer, the kids will have enjoyed structured and un-structured time, spent some time every day – or at least once a week – with an adult, practicing making conversation and other social skills, reading a variety of books, and they’ll have less of a struggle getting back into the swing of things when they go back to school.
Copyright 2012, Elizabeth Urbach
For more information:
“Homeschool Teatime: the “Girly” thing I did for my boys”
“Homeschool Hours: Independent Reading & Tea Time”
“Poetry and Tea”
Nursery Rhymes (including some about tea)
“Is it too warm to sleep? Try soothing orange-blossom mint tisane”
“What should I keep in the pantry for tea parties?”
“How to use edible flowers for tisanes”
“Tea 101: how to have a tea party for children”
“Review: Amandine Decanter by Teavana”
“Greet the summer in San Jose with iced tea during Iced Tea Month”
“Now is the time for garden parties and picnics in San Jose”
“Tea 101: what do we mean when we talk about tea?”
“Take your tea into one of San Jose’s gardens”
“Iced tea and how to make it”
“Ease the first-day-of-school jitters with a tea party”
“Cool off with tea ice cream”
“Going back to school in San Jose? Ease into it with a tea picnic on the beach”
“Practice good manners in San Jose at the tea table”
“6 points of proper tea etiquette for San Jose”