The absence of a school routine may create challenges in daily lives during the summer months. For parents, children are around all day and for children, there is a less structured environment to deal with. Changes can be positive, but challenges may emerge.
Resist the temptation to abandon basic family rules and routines. Although it’s appealing to give children a break, it is important to remember that too much deviance from established routines can lead to irritability and meltdowns. However, some flexibility during the summer months is encouraged. It is a time for children to have fun. Maintain basic bedtime habits, scheduled chores, and other established expectations (e.g., not playing video games all day).
Keep a scheduled calendar of events. Even during the summer months, it is important to keep structure so children are able to anticipate upcoming events. A simple visual calendar that displays activities throughout the summer months allow children to prepare.
Create a mixture of major summer activities (e.g., long weekend trips, family vacation) and casual activities (e.g., swimming, playground trips, hiking) to keep children interested in summer events. Also, it is important to schedule daily quiet time. Children can choose from various quiet activities; however, these activities should be unplugged (i.e., away from technological devices, such as tv, iPad, video games, etc.). This enables children to entertain themselves and avoid overstimulation.
Daily education does not have to decrease since school is out for the summer. Incorporate time into the schedule to research and experiment topics of interest. If available, take opportunities to visit museums, aquariums, etc. to further develop educational ideas. Spend time outdoors when possible to interact with nature and learn about different animals and plants.
Some families live in urban areas where day camps and other structured programs are accessible. If possible, it may benefit your child to participate in one of these programs. There are a variety of programs offered and will depend on the location of the family.
Finally, planning daily time to read is important, especially for those children who have difficulty with reading skills. It does not have to be a book, as long as it holds the child’s attention (e.g., comic books, magazines, posters, etc.).
During the summer, parents hope to avoid boredom and demands of constant parent attention. With the right balance of free time and planned time, children are less likely to become bored and display challenging behaviour.