Transition to summertime

Tips to get into a successful summertime routine.

Kids playing with water outside

All across the country, children are wrapping up their school year. Final projects are turned in, the last concert of the year is performed and awards banquets are being held. Soon the bell will ring on the end of the year and children will be home for the summer. This is a fun time, but it is also a time of transition. Transitions, both positive and negative, can be challenging times for children and their parents. What can you do to help your family successfully get into the summer routine and limit the beginning of summer chaos? Michigan State University Extension offers the following tips for summer success.

Allow for time to settle into the routine

It’s easy to think that with school out, the pressure is off, and kids should be relaxed and happy. The truth is that it isn’t always that easy. School ending abruptly changes a child’s routine and structure to their day. They miss their friends, they worry about the upcoming school year, they’re bored with long days ahead and (seemingly) nothing to do, or suddenly they’re spending an awful lot of time with their siblings. Expect the first few weeks of summer to be bumpy for children.

Set aside time for a family meeting to plan for a successful summer. What do your children want and need in the summer months? Perhaps it’s siblings respecting the private space of their bedroom or being allowed to wait until late morning to start chores. Allow children to share their feelings and be heard.

Establish rules and guidelines together

Clear expectations and boundaries for children help them be successful. What do you expect your children to do each day in the summer? How much screen time is allowed? Can screen time come before chores or is it after chores only? When can they go play with friends? How far can they go from home when playing outside?

Maintain a routine and bedtime

Routines do not have to mean firm schedules. It’s OK to let children stay up late catching fireflies or sitting around the campfire once and a while. However, maintaining predictable routines and schedules is helpful for children. They might not tell you they enjoy the routine, but knowing what comes next is a safe and predictable feeling for children. They know what to expect and when to expect it. Stick with a reasonable bedtime and support your child getting adequate sleep every night. Blackout blinds or curtains can help children fall asleep when it is still daylight and sleep in later in the morning.

Stay busy, but not too busy

Summer is a great time to be outside playing with friends and family. Schedule fun outings, camps and other activities, but don’t forget to let your child have time to just play at home. Play allows children to use creativity, imagination, dexterity as well as physical, cognitive, social and emotional skills. Authentic play experiences are essential to healthy development. Try to make time for your child to just play.

Keep learning alive

Don’t let the summer months mean an end to educational activities. Take time this summer to read with your children and engage in other learning focused activities. Sign up for the library summer reading program, go on nature walks, explore state parks. Keeping your children learning and engaged through the summer is the key to preventing summer learning loss and ensuring your children are ready to succeed at school in the fall.

Take time to plan ahead for a successful summer with your family. Include your children in creating their summer plans. Find out what they would like to do and schedule in their desired activities. Expect your children to contribute at home. Limit technology and encourage play. Relax, and enjoy your summer!

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