Feast from the East

Our oldest grandson likes pomegranates.

He’s not alone. Hummus and veggies, pita stuffed sandwiches and other foods from the Middle East found their way to lunch boxes during this school year.

This was the first year that trending foods, even those far beyond the Middle East, hit school lunches in a big way.

If your child hasn’t tried tomato jam, jicama, Brussels sprout crisps or breakfast tacos, introduce the new tastes this summer, when your child has a kitchen full of “back up” menu options.

And who knows?

Perhaps by September, your child will be asking for edible flowers or pickled watermelon rind in the lunch box.

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Vacations made for Instagram

Kids who help plan family vacation are driven by one factor this summer: finding Instagrammable locations.

Fortunately for parents who want kids to experience nature, the Grand Canyon and white water rafting rank as “spectacle locations.”
Grandma’s house, not so much.

Exciting (really!) libraries

Look for more school-library partnerships, as checking out books to meet summer reading requirements will be merely one of many options.

Library directors have made intentional efforts to link with summer learning initiatives. Mobile media centers and STEM-focused “maker spaces” will be popular with kids and parents. Librarians are especially trying to engage entire families in digital literacy programs.

Educators and librarians hope the result will be to inspire a lifelong love of learning. I echo that hope.

Tech at every step

Parents have been quick to embrace the multiple forms of digital tech, designed to accompany moms and dads through every stage of their journey.

From fertility tracking before conception to prenatal communication devices in pregnancy to apps that connect new moms, tech is a click away.

Robots and personal assistants are the latest digital additions. Designed to help parents supervise children from adjacent rooms to answering parenting questions, data delivery is increasingly personalized. However, privacy is the issue that looms like a dark shadow.

Valedictorians be gone?

In some areas, nearly half of high schools have deleted the tradition of naming salutatorians and valedictorians.

Honestly, I was (and still am) proud of one of our daughters who ranked #1 out of more than 500 graduates. She worked unbelievably hard for that honor. I’m grateful her achievement was recognized.

Today, the anti-valedictorian movement has strong advocates. As a result, some schools award multiple students with top grade point averages. Other schools have an entire “row of honor.”

In today’s sport, appearance and popularity-driven schools, any recognition of excellent scholastic is worthy of the attention.

Dump bad dads

The “bad dad” stereotypes don’t match the men I see grocery shopping with toddlers in tow or taking half days from the office to attend end of year school activities.

I’m encouraged by the level of engagement by many of the dads I see.

Some might say, “It’s taken long enough,” but even the “dadvertising” on TV seems to reflect this positive shift.

Dive in!

If your child is taking swimming lessons or is a member of the swim team, perhaps you’ve already encountered boutique wellness classes.

As you might have noticed this summer, the diversification of swimming as a way to keep fit has gone beyond swimming laps and water aerobics. Kids, tweens, teens and adults of all ages are embracing low impact aquatic exercises delivered with modern twists.

In some pools, music is played through underwater speakers; intervals and circuits are added to make full body workouts. Some classes end with high energy party segments that raise the fun level. And of course, the mindfulness trend comes to the pool through classes of “noodlers” who silently float on flexible foam noodles.

Still only swimming laps? Look around. There might be a more interesting activity that might even become a cross-generational favorite!