Make the most of your summer break with these useful tips!
Summer break can be one of the most anticipated parts of the school year for kids. While your kids may be dreaming about two straight months devoid of rules, structure, or bedtimes, it's important to maintain an active summer. Children who have active, structured summers tend to be happier, healthier, and more prepared for the upcoming school year than their peers. Here are some of our tips for making sure that the summer is a constructive, active time for your kids while still being fun!
Stick to a Schedule
It's unlikely that you'll be able to completely recreate the structure that school provides, and you might very well face a mini-rebellion from your kids if you try too hard. That said, keeping things consistent goes a long way. While it may be tempting to frequently let your kids stay up late and sleep in, this translates to both less energetic children and a frantic rush to "reset" their sleep schedules the week before school starts. Even if you're planning on just taking a week to relax, try to have one pre-planned activity. This can be something as simple as a walk around the neighborhood. Doing so gives a sense of consistency around which the rest of the day can be structured.
Spend Time Outside
There's no substitute for sunshine. Getting some quality time outside is one of the most important habits for keeping kids active during the summer. You don't need to do full backcountry hikes every day, just make sure that your kids are getting outside and doing something besides spending time on screens. Even if you're not keen on using this time for organized sports, there's an endless variety of outdoor games that you can invent with basic objects and a little imagination. Capture the flag, kick the can, backyard obstacle courses, water balloon baseball, or making sidewalk chalk murals are just some of the ways that you can turn a lazy summer day into an adventure.
Commit to Projects
Having two consecutive months of "free" time affords kids with artistic and learning opportunities that aren't as available once they finish school. This is a great time to help kids learn about how to commit to longer-term projects and have fun doing it! Parenting groups have long advocated the benefits of piano recitals, local theatre, or dance as a way of teaching the habits required to cultivate skills in the long term. Even something as simple as a jigsaw puzzle requires multiple sessions to complete and thus teaches kids the value of sticking with something.
Fight the Backslide
It's a well-documented phenomenon that children can lose a lot of academic progress during summer. This backslide occurs from spending too much time away from the classroom without opportunities to reinforce the skills they picked up during the school year. The good news is that you can both prevent this from happening and send them back to school with plenty of mental momentum by maintaining their learning through the summer.
If your child has summer homework, get started early so that you can make it a consistent and incremental part of the day instead of a manic rush in the last few weeks before school. While you don't need to have them doing complex math worksheets and tests every day, having your kids spend an hour reading or reviewing can go a long way in making sure they're prepared when school starts up again.
Don't Go Overboard
Of course, there's always the risk that kids can be given too much structure. We've all had that one childhood friend: the kid who had baseball practice every morning at 6:30 a.m. followed by piano lessons at 8 a.m., then competitive water archery, then more piano lessons, and advanced multiplication homework all before lunchtime. By the time that these kids got around to their 5:30 p.m. contemporary Dutch poetry classes, they always seemed thoroughly exhausted. Sure, keeping to a schedule is important, but it's also energizing to give your kids time to be bored. Having to find productive uses for an unstructured time helps kids recharge and discover new passions.
Are there any summer activities for kids that you really love? Let us know in the comments!