The summer before your student begins college at Emerson can feel both years long and like it will pass in the blink of an eye. Heading off to college is not a forever-goodbye, but it is a transition and there will likely be some kind of shift in the family-student relationship, whether it be monumental or not. The next few months may feel like crucial bonding time, especially if your student will be traveling a distance to Boston. There is a variety of ways to spend time together before they head out to college that can be enjoyable, informative, and relationship-building all at the same time!
One thing you might consider is activities that are fun, but also encourage and teach independence. For example, cooking together— try to make residence hall friendly recipes! College cooking doesn’t need to be all plain ramen and peanut butter crackers. Find some recipes that are feasible to create in a college kitchen and try them out together. Another possible activity is doing laundry together, especially if your student is not familiar with doing their own. Many students come to college not knowing how to do a load of laundry, and taking the time to teach them now will save them a good bit of trouble later on. You can also create a budget or grocery list together. Talking to your student about how you budget your expenses and decide what is necessary to purchase can give them a solid foundation upon which to begin creating their own plan.
Another exciting and productive way to spend time together is to collaborate on some kind of a project. This could be something like making a puzzle or making something for their new living space at school if they will be on campus or in their own apartment. You could sew and stuff pillows, put together a blanket from old tshirts, or do some woodworking and make a desk organizer. All of these teach valuable hands-on skills that you can refresh or learn in tandem with one another.
Talking to your student about their classes, work life, or social life during the school year is inevitable. However, sometimes you may just want to talk about something else! A fun addition to conversation can happen if you start reading a book series, watching a tv show, or listening to a podcast alongside each other over the summer— if the series or show carries on through their time at school, that gives you a non-stressful thing to talk about while they are away, presuming you both keep reading, watching, and/or listening.
One thing to be prepared for in the summer before your student starts at Emerson is to see them already leaning toward independence— they may become gradually more distant over the semester as they prepare to break away from the household. Pushing activities and time spent together is not recommended, however a request to spend a bit of time with one another is not unreasonable! It is also important to discuss how you will keep in touch while your student is away from home— this may include social media, phone calls, emails, texting, Skype, letters, and in-person visits! Making a solid communication plan can be comforting for both parties involved. My roommate who graduated this past semester Skyped his parents every Sunday at 7 pm (time variant depending on his schedule) for the entirety of his college career. Knowing that you have a plan for contact can help everyone ease into the transition and give grounding for regular check-ins.
Spending time together using these activities or others you come up with on your own can help ease the transition into college and make both you and your student feel more prepared for the coming year! If you have other ideas please feel free to leave them in the comments below!
Mandy Seiner is an Emerson senior Writing, Literature, and Publishing major from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the ketchup capital of the world. She is minoring in Philosophy, Psychology, and finding the best cup of coffee in the greater Boston area. You can usually find her teaching children about creative writing, marathoning scary movie trailers, or getting lost in the woods by her apartment.