Summertime can be a fun time for children and families. Between vacations, cooling down at the pool, and hanging out with friends, the good times seem like they’ll never come to an end. Even with all that fun and relaxation, responsibilities still find a way to creep in. What happens when summer vacation is still going strong, but mom and dad have to return to work? What happens when you want your child to still have a good balance of education and fun over the break? How can a common ground be found when it comes expectations on a summer schedule? We spoke with a child expert from Canopy Children’s Solutions (Canopy) to get a few tips on how to help us navigate through the summer time limbo.
First thing first, no parent wants all that learning and growth from the previous school year to go to waste, but it can be a challenge to get children motivated to spend time doing educational activities while on break. “One thing parents can do is have a contest to see who can read more books throughout the summer, while providing incentives for desired goals which increase as they reach the end of the summer,” said Therapist Caleb Cauthen, LPC. “Implementing strategies like this is a fun way to keep children’s minds sharp and encourage a little healthy competition. The key is to make learning fun, especially during the summer.”
Having a fun and productive summer is important when trying to find a balance. Parents can help achieve this by creating a weekly summer schedule. The schedule can include things like educational activities, fun days or activities, chores, and more. Being productive during the summer and teaching responsibility to children, even during break can have a significant impact. “I provide a summer schedule for my client’s parents. I encourage them to alter this schedule to best fit them and their child,” Cauthen said. “Chores could be assigned throughout the day or chosen with priority and importance. Parents do need to hold their kids accountable if an expectation or rule is not met, or is broken. Discuss behaviors and consequences with them in a nonjudgmental tone when they have not met their goals daily or weekly.” This can help teach children responsibility, while staying active throughout the summer.
Having a set weekly schedule can also help parents manage the household while they return to work and the children are left home. This would give parents the opportunity to discuss expectations and rules to the children for when they will be home alone. “Parents could utilize the schedule to include emergency contact information and instructions, check in times, and could even go as far as adding a nutritious snack or meal plan. Parents should go over the schedule with their children and leave it in an accessible place,” Cauthen suggested.
All in all, everyone enjoys summer breaks and having fun. Going to the beach, reading a good book, or even playing video games. Adding a little structure for children can help parents and children benefit from the well-deserved break. The goal is to have fun, learn, and grow. Happy Summer!