It’s officially summer. Only the hardhearted won’t admit feeling a little bit lighter and less stressed despite longer days and shorter nights. I’ve always believed that sunshine brings out our inner child. No matter if you last set foot in a classroom three years ago or 30, summer will always signal vacation time, a break from routine and a time to let go. So instead of lamenting that kids are falling into the dreaded “summer slide” of education, we adults should follow suit and slip into our own rhythm of easy livin’.
We, who are in the business of creating media for kids, should use this time to re-think like a kid. Sometimes we’re so close to our product, we lose sight of our audience. Whether you’re a parent, grandparent, relative, friend or neighbor, now’s the time to find a summer-happy kid to play with. Look at the world through the eyes of a three-year old. Watch how the way a worm wiggles is endlessly fascinating. Can you imitate it despite arthritic hips? Find a 10-year old. He sees a completely different world. Listen to his questions. Even if you have to Google the answers. What about 17-year olds, straddling the time between high school and college? How do they play? What makes them smile?
You already know that the skills, interests, and humor of each age group are vastly different. But do you assume that, because it’s obvious, or from hands-on experience? Have you actually spent time relaxing around kids lately? Have you played their games…with them? Hearsay and can-do are completely separate experiences.
While you’re in the kid frame of mind, be your own focus group. Pick up a competitor’s product. Why do your new kid friends like it? Through their eyes, what do you see? How would you change it? Promote it? I’m not advocating copycats, I’m stressing awareness. See what makes a product good from different angles. Too often we don’t have the time or inclination to examine other options. Arming yourself with new perspectives can propel you to come up with new ideas.
Do something different. It doesn’t have to be a radical Dr. Phil-break-your-bad-habits kind of thing. Just have a mini adventure. Whether it’s visiting a new museum, taking a bike ride, or trying a new kind of food, there’s no better way to experience a child’s emotions than by getting out of your comfort zone.
Lastly, daydream.That’s what summer clouds are for. Lazing in a beach chair lulled by ocean waves. Zoning out in order to zone in. Working on your tan. Oops—I forgot, sun ages you. Make sure you apply an SPF.
How are you spending your summer? Tell me at firstname.lastname@example.org.