Summer is here! While the kids enjoy their freedom and fun, parents face new challenges with the lack of routine. Here are some ideas to help you and your children through the transition and the long days of summer.
1. Plan ahead. Whether you are sending your children to camp, exploring new activities or planning a vacation, prepare your kids so they know what to expect. Show them pictures of where you’ll be going and what they’ll be doing. Talk to your kids about how you will get there – are you going on a long car ride or on a plane? – so that the transition and travel time are smooth.
2. Maintain Routine. Stick to a schedule – even if it’s different from your year-round routine. Try to keep as much structure as possible. For example, even if bedtime is later, continue your regular bath/bed routine and tuck your kids in at the same time every night. Consider using picture schedules for young children so they can follow your day to day routine.
3. Create memorable summer experiences. Take advantage of opportunities around the house to enjoy the time off with your children. Play board games, craft, bake and decorate cupcakes, use household items to play the drums. Be creative!
4. Use incentive charts. Raise the stakes and offer your children incentives they actually care about such as summer outings or quality time with a parent or grandparent. Charts can encourage and track almost any positive behavior.
5. Encourage outdoor play. “Outdoor play fosters opportunities for creativity, imagination, social connections, and learned behaviors,” says Ashley Parsons in her article entitled Young Children and Nature. Take your kids to the park, ride bikes, play in the sand, enjoy the beach. The options are endless.
6. Think mealtime and stay hydrated. Be prepared with snacks, meals and drinks for your kids – on a schedule of course! Prep your meals ahead of time so your kids know what to expect and make sure to serve healthy options.
7. Plan playdates with friends. Children develop critical social and peer interaction skills by playing with friends. Make playdates that work – for kids and parents alike! Go to the park or visit at home.
8. Plant a garden. Watch it grow! Gardens are a wonderful opportunity to teach children about responsibility.With hard work and consistency, they will surely reap the fruits of their labor. Consider planting flowers, vegetables, and even trees!
9. Safety awareness. Teach your children to wear helmets, use sunscreen, use bug spray to avoid ticks, swim under the supervision of a lifeguard, buckle in the car(seat), and be wary of strangers. Have these conversations with your children before the dangers arise so you can feel confident that your children are safe.
10. Plan smart. Avoid too much stimulation. Give your kids scheduled down time and limit the thrills and sensory activities. Listen to music or play calm games, read books, color and share stories.
We hope you have a wonderful summer. Stay tuned for more detail on these tips and tricks!