By David S. Jangda, MA
Summer break from school can be a very healthy and well deserved break for students and their parents, but is it really? I will explore some of the realities of children having extended time off from school during the summer months and give some ideas of how to provide structure during this period that can help maintain some consistency in their lives and yours.
During the school year children develop a natural routine that forms their everyday life. But typically when summer break starts many of these routines change and so much of what was established throughout the school year is lost.
What is most often lost is the foundation of academic knowledge built up during the school year, especially in their core subjects such as math and English, along with other healthy living habits like sleep times, maintaining a balanced diet, regular exercise, hygiene, and positive social interactions.
Knowing how much routine changes from the school year to summer and how even more difficult change is for developing children let’s explore some simple tips to help plan and establish structure for your children during the summer months:
- Get your children involved. Involve them in the decision making process so they take ownership of their summer break. For example, have a family meeting to share ideas of activities they want to be involved in this summer and incorporate them into the plan.
- Make rules. Set reasonable rules for wake up, bed, and curfew times. Monitor activities and social interactions to avoid negative influences and behavior.
- Establish a schedule. Set time for completing household chores, learning activities, time with friends, video games/television, etc.
- Schedule some activities. Contact local organizations that provide academic, social, and athletic programming throughout the summer months that will fill time with little or no cost to you.
- Library – Summer Reading Program
- Colleges/Universities – Academic and Athletic Camps
- Youth Employment Agencies – Job Training and Development
- YMCA/Girls and Boys Clubs of America
- Local camps and recreation departments
- Local churches or religious institutions
- Reward them. Give them incentives to accomplish tasks and be responsible while having fun and being kids.
Summer break can be a very exciting time for children and at the same time it can be a period of healthy growth and development that assists not only in the transition to the next grade but in cultivating their talents to live up to their innate potential.
David S. Jangda, MA, Limited Licensed Psychologist, works at Pine Rest’s Caring Communities and works with children and adolescents in several Grand Rapids Public Schools high and middle schools.