School’s out for summer! When I was teaching, our principal would blast that song from Alice Cooper over the PA system. In high school and college, I would always blare the Hallelujah chorus as I made my way home on the last day of classes. Whether you too are rejoicing that the school year is over, or if you’re wondering how on earth you will make it through the next two and a half months, this guide is for you!
This post is just for YOU and will hopefully provide you with a few ideas and tips to save some sanity this summer.
1. Expect Behaviors
Anticipate that your children will likely act out, especially towards the start of summer break. Summer break is a giant transition for a child, which typically translates into a few “kinks” in their behavior.
If you have at least one child who has been at home all year, and one who has been at school, expect a few power struggles as both battle to be “king of the hill” at home. Help your children take turns in deciding what to play and reinforce the notion of compromise.
If you’re ready for the behaviors that may arise from the transition to summer break, you’ll be less likely to lose your cool or escalate a situation with an over-reaction. Keep your cool. You’re the one running the show.
2. Bye Bye Boredom
As a teacher and as a mother, I have noticed an overwhelming pattern of behavior. Kids act out/get cranky/misbehave more when they are bored. Kids have short attention spans and need to be actively engaged.
Create a “Boredom Jar” for your kids, filling it up with small slips of paper that have different activities written on them. Some of our slips include “fun” things like, “Prepare a puppet show for the family” , “Play with playdough” or “Make something out of whatever is in the recycling bin.” Some of the items are chores. Some are learning activities like, “Play with the pattern blocks” or “Practice math facts.” The rule is that if a child tells me he/she is bored, they must choose a slip and then MUST do whatever is on the piece of paper. It’s a fun activity, and encourages them to keep themselves amused. (And sometimes, they discover an activity they forgot about or really enjoy in the process!) I like to include activities that involve toys and ideas they haven’t used in awhile. It keeps things fresh.
3. Kids Need Structure
Kids need structure. Having a dependable and predictable routine is beneficial for nearly all children. Without the structure that school provides, many kids start to flounder. I was one of those kids. I am one of those adults. I need a structure. (Note that I didn’t say a “schedule”.) Schedules are rigid and I find that they can stress me out. Instead, aim for a basic structure. Have predictable meal times, rest times, play times, etc. Help kids wake up and go to sleep at about the same time each night. Set a basic household routine.
Summer does not mean the end of bedtime for our kids. Certainly the kids can be allowed to stay up a little bit later in the summer, BUT, we have found that our kids still need their rest. Keeping a bedtime helps keep their attitudes in check (as tired children tend to be cranky children), and keeps me sane as well. I don’t know about you, but I NEED that alone time with my husband at night after the kids have gone to bed. I also work to help my kids wake up at an acceptable morning hour as well. (I have a baby and a 2 year old…I’m not going to sleep in anyways.)
In our family, we work to create a Summer Bucket List each year, which consists of fun area attractions we’d like to visit and special things we’d like to do. Each week, we work to cross items off of our list. About once a week, the kids and I will go on a larger outing to somewhere like the zoo, the aquarium, the museum, etc. Twice a week, we’ll do something smaller (and free!) like the park, the library, or a playdate. On the remaining days, we will do a fun project or activity at home like a special art project, science experiments, cooking, make and play with playdough, etc. It keeps all of us from going stir-crazy, and helps keep boredom at bay.
6. Limit Screen Time
At our house, our kids have to earn screen time (*post on our system to come soon!), so we keep screen time down to a minimum. I encourage my kids to get outside, do a lot of imaginative play, and read. I like to keep screen time “special” so things like our “Family Fun Night” where we watch a movie together is more meaningful. I’ve seen really positive changes in my kids since the decision to limit the amount of time they can spend on tv, computer, Wii, etc.
7. Get Kids Involved in Chores
Let’s be honest. Kids at home mean a messier home. Disappointingly, not one of my children inherited my crazy-compulsive-neat-freakyness. However, this doesn’t mean that our house is a disaster. Why not? We ALL pitch in. I am a HUGE believer in children doing chores (and the younger you can start the better!) Even two year old children are capable of helping out around the house.
I cannot stress how important this one is. Multiple studies have shown that kids who don’t read over the summer regress in their skills. Try to enforce a minimum of 20 minutes of reading per day. We have our older children take a “quiet rest time” during the afternoon (while my babies are napping), and they both sit quietly and read during this time. They are also allowed to read in bed each night. (They can also read to earn screen time at our house.)
Another fun idea is to challenge your child to read a certain number of books over the summer. Make the goal within reach, but not something they can reach without effort. Choose a reward or celebration if they meet their goal.
For ideas of what to read check out:
See the blog for other great book lists!
9. Use Your Resources
Check with your local library to see if they are offering a summer reading program. Many libraries offer great incentives to help motivate your kids to keep reading all summer long. Many libraries also host fun events throughout the summer. They’re usually a lot of fun and they’re free!
I found a great DIY summer reading program from education.com. It’s thematic, and includes a ton of great ideas, activities, and printables. There is a new theme and collection of activities for every week. You can find that HERE.
Barnes and Noble has a great summer reading program for older kids (Gr.1-5). Kids can receive a free book for reading! Find more info HERE.
Check with local churches in the area to see if they are offering a Vacation Bible School. Let your kids enjoy a week of music, games, and fun while you enjoy a few hours to yourself! Most are free or very low cost.
10. Join in!
Have fun WITH your kids this summer. Don’t hesitate to run through the sprinkler, get lost in the jellyfish exhibit, or work to build the largest Lego tower known to humankind. Try to carve out some time each day to PLAY. Make memories, enjoy the sun, and play with your kids while they still want you to!
Have a wonderful summer supermoms! I will be posting fun ideas and activities all summer long to help keep you and your kids having fun and learning together.
*All families are different and have different needs. These ideas are things that have worked for our family. As with all of my posts, I encourage you to do what works for YOU. Take an idea. Leave an idea. Either way, have a wonderful summer!