Though we welcome the lazy days of summer, Mighty Mommy has 6 tips to transition from school mode into a relaxed summer atmosphere without losing the structure you’ve worked hard to establish during the school year.
The lazy, carefree days of summer are upon us. After the long winter we experienced throughout much of the U.S. this past year, we welcome summer with open arms. While the kids may be thrilled about the last day of school, many parents experience anxiety about keeping their children occupied during the summer months. So Mighty Mommy has 6 tips to ease the transition from the super busy school year to the more relaxing days of summer vacation.
Tip #1: Create a Summer To-Do List
Summer is an exciting time of year but with 8 plus weeks of non-school time on many families’ hands, it can also be overwhelming in terms of keeping kids entertained and out of trouble for that length of time. That’s why many years ago, Mighty Mommy started a tradition called the Summer To-Do list. Before school lets out for the year, each of my 8 kids writes down at least 5 things he or she would like to do over the summer break. I coordinate everyone’s list with our summer calendar and if their requests are within reason, we make them happen! Even for my teenaged kids who have part-time summer jobs, it’s still important that they get to plan on some fun outings that are their choice. Oh, and this Summer To-Do list also includes a mom and dad agenda as well!
Tip #2: Keep Your Routines
Just because the bus isn’t coming early in the morning to whisk your kids off to school, doesn’t mean you should give up on some of the important routines that you’ve worked so hard to enforce all throughout the school year. Bed time routines can certainly be adjusted for older kids so they can stay up later and enjoy more time hanging with friends or watching movies. But if you throw your evening routine out the window for the next two months, your kids and you will pay the pricey when it comes time to transition back to school.
Family chores should also be kept in order so that the household will continue to run smoothly with extra people underfoot during summer. Have a gathering with your family before summer gets going and review the routines and policies that you expect to continue so that everyone is on the same page.
Tip #3: Organize Summer Reading and Appointments
Schools usually distribute a summer reading list as well as other learning activities that are recommended for kids to complete throughout the summer. I will be receiving 6 such reading lists next week, and before the 4th of July my kids and I will head to the library and start checking out books on these summer reading lists so that we can get a head start on the process. There’s nothing more daunting than having your child hand you their required reading list at the end of August and tell you he forgot all about it.
Reading doesn’t have to be a chore if you can get your kids excited and motivated early on. Mighty Mommy has an incentive program during the summer where finished books and written reports earn movie theater tickets, ice cream gift certificates, and other goodies.
In addition to summer reading, the beginning of the summer vacation is also a good time to check your kids’ records to see who needs dental cleanings, well-visits, check-ups or other maintenance visits. Schedule them now before summer escapes you and you’re left scrambling at the beginning of another busy school year.
Tip #4: Stay Connected with School Friends
Young children in kindergarten or grade school become attached to certain friends they meet in school and can really become sad if they don’t get to see them for a couple of months. This is particularly important for special needs children. Consistency with familiar faces is helpful for children who struggle with social skills.
Play dates with peers are a great summertime activity. Be sure to swap information with the parents of your child’s school friends before the end of the year. Children learn a lot through playing together, including skills such as negotiation, compromise, taking turns, communication, and imaginative play.
Tip #5: Keep Learning
Find out if your child’s present and future teacher have any recommendations for summer learning activities that will help them maintain and practice skills that will be beneficial for the next school year. Many school districts post suggestions on their websites according to grade level. Taking two months off from learning makes it difficult to step back into learning mode come September.
Mighty Mommy devotes two sessions per week (about 30 minutes each) for all her kids to complete activity packets, play online learning games, or watch educational videos or programs on The History Channel to keep up on their knowledge and skills. You can also schedule family field trips to museums and other fun places that will spark their learning interest or play board games such as Scrabble or Monopoly to keep them sharp throughout the summer.
And don’t forget to keep reading to your children. Reading together provides some wonderful bonding time and fosters a love of reading for the future.
See also: Summer Retention
Tip #6: Tweens and Teens Still Need Structure
Teenagers need to be involved with your family’s summer routine and plans. Many will have part-time jobs which will limit their available time during the day or evenings, some may babysit for younger siblings or children in the neighborhood, and others will have no agenda at all, which may seem exciting at first, but after a couple of weeks, boredom usually sets in.
Remind your tween and teen at the very beginning of summer that curfews, though they may be adjusted, are still in effect as well as share what your expectations are for them helping out around the house or keeping up with summer reading. Try to get your teen’s input as to how he or she would like to see the summer to play out. This gives you an opportunity to get excited with them about any plans they may have, as well as discuss any concerns.
Summer is an excellent time for high school kids to volunteer or work on community service projects. Check out some ideas from your student’s guidance office at school and make sure to ask them what they’d be interested in doing.
How do you wind down the school year and ease into summer with your family? Share your thoughts in the comment section or post your ideas on the Mighty Mommy Facebook page. You can also connect with me on Twitter @MightyMommy or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit my family-friendly boards at Pinterest.com/MightyMommyQDT.
While trying to entertain the children all summer can be stressful for parents, spending quality time with family can still be rewarding. Focus on engaging, rather than entertaining the kids and you’ll have a fun-filled summer. Until next time…happy parenting!