Successfully Transitioning from the School Year to Summer!

While it may seem that a transition from a busy school year to a relaxed summer may be an easy one, it can be detrimental to younger children if no set schedule is in place. There are numerous reasons why keeping consistent with a schedule of some form will help children enjoy their summer vacation. Firstly, allowing children, especially younger ones to sleep too late, and consequently stay up much later in the day, will confuse the child’s set sleep cycle. Late nights and lazy mornings often lead to cranky and irritable kids during the day. While it may seem at the time like a fun idea to let children not have a set schedule, this is truly setting them up for a harder transition down the road, when they must be up early again for school. In the end, not properly transitioning into a summer schedule can involve changes in routine, sleep patterns and social interactions which can be tough for younger children. Read on for five tips from parents and educators on how to effectively transition from a busy school year to a busy summer!

Tip #1: Routine, routine, routine. As already mentioned, it is powerful and necessary to keep a child in a routine over the summer. According to the article, “Surviving the Transition from School Year to Summer,” this tip is still the most important for parents by far. Although children will not be going to school each day, we should still try and keep most of the routine the same. “This means that you should still wake up at the same time each day, bathe and eat breakfast at the same time, and keep the same bedtime,” the article states. By keeping this normal routine in place, children now have a sense of stability which helps them know what to expect. Children thrive in knowing expectations, and this can help kids build confidence and limit anxiety as they go throughout their day.

Tip #2: Turn summer break activities into learning activities. The warmer weather provides countless opportunities for all to enjoy some time outdoors. Utilize that time to also incorporate learning. These activities do not require spending a lot of money or effort. There are plenty of simple and exciting activities you can do indoors or outdoors. From trivia games to scavenger hunts to outdoor experiments, summer is perfect for encouraging children to explore topics that naturally interest them, or arts and crafts activities. Take time out of each week to plan a trip to local museums or nature centers. While on these trips, the learning will not only be firsthand, but will also provide more clues as to what your child is naturally interested in. Have a young boy who gets excited while viewing insects at the nature museum? Afterwards, take him to the local library and check out a few new books on insects. The learning continues easily and effortlessly! 

Tip #3: Include your children in planning summer activities. To keep your children motivated and invested in their learning activities, it is vital to involve them in the planning process. Ask them what interests them, and then plan accordingly. Have a young girl who loves to dance? Consider taking advantage of local dance centers which often offer summer camps for a low fee. If trying to save money, consider using videos geared towards teaching dance moves to allow them to learn a dance, and then have them teach this to the other child. By allowing children to help plan the day’s activity, this will give your child a sense of control and independence, as well as improve their critical thinking. If you have multiple children, consider having one child pick the first activity, then the second pick the next one. This way, both can enjoy planning their learning trip. 

Tip #4: Limit screen time; not just during the school year, but summertime, too. While it is tempting to relax and allow children more access to screen time, this is not a great idea for younger minds. However, like anything, there is a fine balance between too much and too little. There are plenty of excellent learning apps and games that children can use during their “down time.” Encourage your child to engage in educational activities such as watching documentaries, or use interactive learning tools such as educational apps, eBooks and learning games that can also be a great way to keep your child’s mind stimulated during the summer break. Define the amount of screen time allowed each day (which should be like what it is during the school year), and then stick to it. Encourage your children to take breaks when using electronic devices, and after screen time, make sure they get outside to enjoy the weather!

Tip #5: Resist overscheduling and overbooking the family. While summer may seem like the perfect opportunity to do it all, remember that this is also a time for children to relax and regroup before another school year. Overbooking can lead to fatigue, unnecessary stress and burnout for both child and parent. Instead of picking all the activities available this summer, focus on one or two NEW activities that truly interest your child. Have a child that is obsessed with horses? Consider signing them up for horseback riding lessons, then allow the rest of the summer to be simple with easy, more manageable activities. Quality over quantity goes far, not only during the busy school year hustle, but also during the summer!

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