The Dog Days of Summer

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Columns, Kids & Family

The Dog Days of Summer

By Anne E. Mead, Ed. D.

“I want the rain to stop, Miss Anne,” stated an incoming kindergartener surrounded by children who chimed in singing their version of “Rain, rain, go away.” After the song, we talked about how “it has been raining for too many days” (as the students told me), how showers can start and stop quickly and how sometimes, they really “got wet” as a young boy remarked, whose hair was wet from running in the rain while arriving at school. “This is not typical weather,” I told the children. I began to tell them how we needed rain for our gardens and to keep our grass green. “Not this much. No sun for so many days and I can’t go out and play,” another child tells me in Spanish translated by a teacher. “My mom and I play fun games inside when my baby sister sleeps” another tells me, but “I want to go play outside!” a child gently growls at me.

Kindergarten children realize the changes in weather and seek to have the warm days of summer back. “I like to play baseball in the summer,” explains a boy, while his sister tells me, “I like to read in my comfy chair in the back yard, but it’s wet now.” Wow – such observant children! I hope the sun returns quickly and the children can once again play under the sunny skies or during the dog days of summer. The phrase “dog days of summer” represents a Greek belief about the dog star called Sirius and its position in the sky. According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the dog days of summer are traditionally the 40 days beginning on July 3 and ending on August 11. Sirius is the brightest star in the sky, not counting the sun. Under the right conditions, it can be seen with the naked eye during the day. Sirius is one star in a group that forms the constellation Canis Major, meaning “Greater Dog.” A short video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBtjweC5nN8 explains the phrase for older children.

The dog days of summer give families plenty of time to play outside, swim, visit parks, libraries and museums and READ. Summer learning loss can be prevented when children are read to daily or solo read for 20-30 minutes per day. Summer is the perfect time to read books such as Looks like Spilled Milk (Charles Shaw), The Very Lonely Firefly (Eric Carle) or How Does Your Garden Grow? (Laura Marsh). Together, families can engage in activities around the stories. Read Spilled Milk and lay on the ground to view the clouds. Ask your child what the clouds look like; do they see the shapes of faces in them? Fireflies can be captured early in the evening and used as a nightlight. Growing a garden and reaping the rewards of fresh vegetables is both nutritious and helps children try new foods.

The rain will end, the dog days will return and summer will soon be over. Remember; school begins on August 31. Enjoy the rest of the summer!

Anne E. Mead, Ed. D., is the administrator for the Early Childhood Education and Extended Learning Programs of the Danbury Public Schools. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact her at 203-830-6508 or meadan@danbury.k12.ct.us.

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August 1, 2018

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