Some parents opt for a light and flexible Summer schedule, whereas other parents need to work around set activities, like day camp and tutoring. Regardless, creating a Summer schedule for kids helps them make the most of their time and stay on track for the upcoming school year, alongside other benefits. So, how do you do it? This blog post will discuss what parents can include in a child’s Summer routine and how to get kids to stick to their routine this Summer.
As you make your child’s Summer schedule, think of what you want to emphasize most. Consistency matters, so whatever you do, be sure that your child’s Summer schedule is realistic for your family. Consider the following steps and ideas as you make your child’s schedule for the Summer.
Even if a parent opts to keep a large portion of their child’s Summer schedule relatively unstructured, making solid morning and bedtime routines can help keep your child on track. A morning routine should include items such as making the bed, oral hygiene (brushing teeth, flossing, etc.), and eating breakfast. Many parents opt to wake their children up at around the same time each day.
Once your child has a strong morning routine, think about any activities that are already planned or find activities to involve your child in. Some kids take Summer art, cooking, music, dance, or swim lessons. Other kids go to day camps, clubs or are part of a sports team. These add structure to a child’s Summer that they might otherwise miss while out of school. Once those activities are in place, build the rest of your child’s Summer schedule around those activities. Take care not to over-schedule a child.
Learning opportunities that present themselves in daily life are an excellent way to teach kids necessary life skills. Think of a few things you’d like to teach your child this Summer. For example, do you want to plan to cook meals together a certain number of times throughout the week? Can you read together for fifteen minutes daily before bed or plan independent reading time for older kids? Is there a school subject your child needs extra help with (like math) that you could work on for 10-20 minutes per day? While it might seem small, these little bursts of focused time can make a big difference.
There are a host of benefits of outdoor activities for kids, including physical activity and mood or behavior-related benefits. Going to the playground or beach, swimming, gardening together, nature walks, or visiting an outdoor landmark are all fantastic ideas. These all help kids create classic Summer memories and steer away from too much screen time.
Family time is essential for kids. Make sure that you plan for regular, non-negotiable family activities throughout the Summer. Even if your family isn’t going on a Summer vacation together, there are a ton of other opportunities to spend time together.
Family activities can be as simple as a family board game night, a family movie night, barbecues, playing a sport you all enjoy, eating meals together, and planning affordable outings, like going to the library.
Get creative and structure time for your family to spend together. Like with outdoor activities, making family time a priority is a perfect opportunity to create classic Summer memories.
Having at least some downtime set aside is incredibly important for kids. Unstructured time inspires creative thinking and gives children an opportunity to explore their interests. Be sure that your child has regular blocks of free time, and think of any items (e.g., low-cost art supplies, educational games, outdoor toys) you might want to have around for your child to gravitate to.
The intensity of a parent’s screen time rules might vary based on a child’s needs, age group, and other factors. The AACAP has screen time guidelines by age group parents can refer to, with specific limits set for kids ages 0-5. From age 6+, rules are a bit looser, but there are some tips you can take away and apply to help your child develop healthy screen habits.
For kids and adults alike, stowing all electronics away 30-60 minutes before bed is an ideal practice, at the very least. This promotes better sleep and helps reduce overall screen time usage. Other strategies can include putting screens away during family meals and outings and planning other activities (e.g., time for outdoor play).
Consider giving your child a new or updated chore list for the Summer. Chores are advantageous for kids because they promote self-esteem, confidence, and responsibility. Ensure that the chores you assign are age-appropriate.
Many parents find it helpful to sit down with their child and make a list of Summer goals together. For example, learning to ride a bike or reading a certain number of books. Summer goals can be simple, and the list can be short – it doesn’t have to be high-pressure at all. That said, it’s a great way to add some direction and motivation to a child’s Summer.
We talked a little bit about the importance of morning and bedtime routines already. One of the biggest benefits of a bedtime routine is that having a regular set of activities to complete before bed can help your child sleep. For example, if they have a snack, bathe and brush their teeth, put on pajamas, and read or meditate before bed each night, their mind will start to connect those activities to bed and wind down naturally when they take place.
Like parents might choose a time for their child to wake up each morning, picking a bedtime for your child for the Summer can support good sleep and help kids stay on a schedule outside of the school year. Some kids have a harder time sleeping than others, which can inform how strict a parent wants to be with a child’s bedtime.
Now that you know how to make a Summer routine for your child, how do you implement it? Stay firm and consistent with kids first, making sure that you follow through with what you say. For example, if they need to complete a chore, do not waver and do it for them. Then, use the following tips to help your child stick to the Summer routine you build.
Kids should have a physical schedule they can refer to. Make a calendar or chart for your child and put it on the fridge or somewhere else where it will be visible. Some parents use productivity/to-do apps where they can input their child or family’s Summer schedule for easy access.
Reward systems can aid motivation in kids and help them stick to a routine or schedule. For younger kids, sticker charts and rewards in the form of experiences, like going to the park, are usually reliable options. Older kids might benefit most from a token system that lets them build up to a bigger reward.
Every child and family’s ideal Summer schedule will be different. However, adding at least some structure to a child’s Summer can make a huge difference and help kids reach their goals. If your child needs additional support during the Summer or school year, contact Behaven Kids to learn about how our children’s behavioral and mental health services can help.