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Family sitting around an outdoor table with food celebrating the fourth of July

Summer Celebrations: Social Skills to Last a Lifetime

Originally published 7/1/2021, updated 7/2/2023

With July 4th around the corner, and the warm lazy days of summer stretched before us, summer party planning is in full swing. While everyone enjoys attending a BBQ cookout or swim party, hosting such an event can be somewhat daunting, especially with children of all ages attending. Get your kids in on the party planning action this summer and create family traditions, special memories and social skills to last a lifetime.

Helping to plan and host a party can be an enriching experience for your little one. Research suggests that celebrations and gatherings, especially with close friends and family, positively impacts the well-being of all family members, especially the youngest ones. As children grow, they make sense of the world through their interactions with others. Gathering with friends and family, provides so many opportunities for children to learn new skills and develop both socially and emotionally.

Let your child assist with party and menu planning. Help your child make special decorations that fit your party theme. Your little one’s confidence and self-esteem will soar as they see their ideas come to fruition. Offering red, white and blue treats is a fun way to celebrate the 4th of July. Even small children can help plan a grocery list and help find the needed ingredients in the store. With supervision, allow your child to create their special party treats. Cooking encourages thinking, problem solving, and language development. Additionally, measuring ingredients and following a recipe encourages time management, basic math and sequencing skills. More importantly, your child will be so proud of their efforts and their special treats may become a family holiday tradition for years to follow.

Have your child plan games or activities that fit into the party theme. For your 4th of July celebration, how about a rousing game of Red, White, and Blue tag? Start by creating an equal number of red, white and blue items, (e.g., small fabric or cardboard stars, bean bags, or bandanas). Each participant is given either a red, white or blue item to carry while tag is played. Once tagged, the participant gives their colored item to the tagger and exits the game. The first person to collect all 3 colors, wins the game. Playing organized games like this one allows your child to practice important social skills in a fun environment. Game play gives your child the opportunity to learn about social concepts like sharing and taking turns. Games also teach your child about success, disappointment, honesty, integrity and how to be a good sport.

If organized games don’t fit into your party plan, there are still plenty of opportunities for your little one to develop social skills while celebrating. Have adults tell their favorite 4th of July memories from their childhood, or stories about their favorite family traditions. Stories passed down through the generations provide children with a sense of their family history while giving them a glimpse into the past. My daughter loves to hear about the July 4th antics of her grandfather and great uncle. If nothing else, she’s learned what NOT to do while lighting fireworks! Research shows that children who hear narratives about the past from family and friends develop a better understanding of people’s thoughts and emotions and are more easily able to interpret social cues. In addition to the social and emotional benefits, family storytelling positively impacts children’s language and literacy skills.

Whether they are sitting around the fire listening to stories, playing a fast-paced game of tag or enjoying tasty July 4th treats, your guests are sure to have a blast this 4th of July. Get your kids in on the planning to add to the fun. The memories they make and skills they learn will last a lifetime.

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