Ah, spring time. For kids, this season means warm weather, new life—and of course, the much-anticipated end of school year. While you might expect your kids to relish their new freedom, some kids need extra encouragement and support as they process the unique end of school year emotions. Having a routine and a few planned activities can put young minds at ease as they continue learning all summer long. With a little preparation, you can sooth the transition into a fun-filled summer.
Check out a few of these ideas to fill the long summer days.
Preschoolers enjoy playdates at the park, library story time, and crafts they can do at home. Child development experts at Madison Area Technical College note that children this age especially enjoy tactile play and hands-on projects. Choose one or two of these summer activities for kids to replace a routine pastime they were accustomed to during the school year.
Did your preschooler always accompany you to collect siblings from a bus stop? Instead, take a short walk around that same time each day. Structure is good, but remember not to overschedule. Maintain a consistent quiet time to allow them to rest and avoid meltdowns in the afternoon hours.
First through fourth graders are at a great age to explore local museums, take nature hikes, and try new hobbies. Attending a day camp a week or two into summer can help elementary-aged children get into the swing of the season as well. Day camps allow them to explore areas of interest and socialize while still reconnecting with parents at the end of each day.
For working parents, day camps can be an enriching childcare alternative for older kids.
With middle school comes greater independence. Lawn sports like Frisbee, badminton, and croquet can keep your kids busy so they don’t rely on technology. Finding a summer service project can help more mature children develop a sense of purpose. Neighborhood jobs like dog-walking, fundraising, or mentoring are all fun ways for kids to learn responsibility and transition into a purposeful summer break. You can also plan a day to pack up the bicycles and head to a local park for a day of riding the trails. Whichever summer activity for kids you choose, try to do it regularly. Middle schoolers rely on stable elements in life at a time when everything else seems to be changing.
For teenagers, summer vacation can be an opportunity to attend an overnight camp or develop a specialized interest such as music or sports. Some cities have a safe havens downtown where teens and kids can try their hand at open-air street performances.
Finding a local job provides an opportunity to learn responsibility, teamwork, and basic finances. While old enough to be home alone and stretch their independence, the University of South Florida emphasizes that this is still an important time to stay connected to your child.
Keeping Skills Sharp at All Ages
According to Harvard University, children lose over two months of grade-level math equivalency over summer. Incorporate math into everyday activities, such as cooking, games, and household organizing to help your kids maintain their skills. Short math games with flashcards or word puzzles are another fun way to keep math fresh and fun. When your child does earn screen time, steer them toward online learning activities, especially for kids at Kids.gov. When you start these practices early on each summer, kids barely skip a beat. The learning continues without a loss of momentum.
For reading and writing skills, consider incorporating a time for journal keeping into the summer routine. According to Cornell University, keeping a journal doesn’t just ease the transition out of school, but can also help kids make a smoother transition back to school! Let youngsters of all ages decorate their journal with designs, stickers, and callouts. Encourage them to write about their summer experiences and favorite memories.
Nearly all children benefit from some form of structured day that incorporates both specific activities and downtime. Summer vacation is the perfect time to take learning and play out of the classroom. To help keep everyone on track, post a basic schedule for your child that blocks out socializing, applied learning, specific activities, and free time.
How does your family make the switch from school to summer? Share your tips with us on Twitter @TomsOfMaine!
Image sources: Pixabay | Bethany Johnson
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.