Structuring Your Child's Summer

Make the summer fun and creative for your children

By FamilyTime


Summer is here! Finally, the grip of a long winter is gone and the lazy days of summer vacation stretch out endlessly. Or so it seems to your kids.

Parents know that summer is a magical time for youngsters, but to insure your children experience that magic requires planning. Some structure is good. Too much is counterproductive and may result in stressed kids, rather than refreshed kids we all expect at August's end.

Most likely you have plans for the kids. They may be going to day camp, a play group, or be joining a sports team. Older children may have babysitting jobs, or they may be camp counselors or life guards. Whatever the plan, make sure they know what you expect of them during the time they are not at camp or working.

How to Begin

Begin the summer with a family meeting and outline your expectations. Find out if the kids have required summer reading or other school projects. Talk to them about working out a reasonable schedule for getting these assignments done. Discuss other issues, such as how much screen time is appropriate -- computer, TV, tablet.

If you think your children might be tempted to sleep later than you think necessary, bring this up now. On the other hand, you may be a parent who couldn't care less when your offspring roll out of bed. Talk about curfews, if age appropriate, and how often friends can spend the night.

Tell your children about the family's planned vacation. If there isn't time or money for one this year, explain why and suggest some alternative activities.

Structured Time
Make a list with plenty of ideas for short and longer outings and activities that provides a full range of experiences. Let the children decide on a couple of activities and then schedule them. It might be a good idea to suggest the kids research what you will see before you leave on an excursion. This way they can "lead the way" once you arrive at a destination.

Suggest art, cooking, or gardening projects and then make sure you have adequate supplies and time for supervision. 

If your child learns a new sport or skill, plan time to practice it--whether it's playing tennis, riding a bike, or perfecting a jackknife dive.

Down Time
Do not over-structure kids' time. Allow some "down time." If they participate in a day camp or local recreation program, give them some freedom during the transition between home and camp.

You might be comfortable with relaxing the normal rules in effect during the school year. This might mean more time at the park or pool, a later curfew for outdoor play, an hour more of television, a few more videos or computer games, or a later bedtime. 

Yes! Summer is here. With a little planning, both you and your kids will benefit from the easier, more relaxed days ahead. Enjoy yourselves!