By Natalie Maughan
This summer will no doubt be different than summers past, due to the fact that many parents are not enrolling their kids in summer camps. Many summer camps aren’t even offered at least for the first half of the summer. So how can we keep our kids occupied and engaged for the next three months? Setting a kid-friendly schedule can help alleviate some of the stress parents feel from a constant demand for Netflix or tech time.
Summer is a time for kids to play and be outside and live up the best part of life: being a kid. But it can be hard to help kids understand the need to engage in different activities or to focus on more than one thing. Some kids love video games and their focus is playing more video games. Some kids love reading and all they want to do is read; however, it’s good to get kids out every day and get their minds trying new things or maintaining skills in some school areas.
A summer “schedule” helps kids to complete objectives before they can use technology for fun or before an afternoon movie. A new summer rotation of chores helps promote responsibility and gets them up and moving in the mornings as well.
Summer Schedule Ideas
The summer schedule in our home includes setting aside time for reading, writing, math, creative time, outdoor time, etc. I like my kids to read for 30-45 minutes a day depending on their age. The libraries are moving to an online summer reading program this year, but it helps motivate some of my kids to read when they know a prize is involved. Check your local library to see how to register for their online summer reading program.
As for writing, I have used these great writing prompts to promote journaling for my older kids who are able to write. We used these at the beginning of “at home school” during coronavirus before we were given school lesson plans. I think it’s fun to look back and see what their responses are to some of the questions. It also helps to understand what emotions they are feeling right now.
Creative time is a fun time but also a huge mess most days. You know what I’m talking about. Some things we do include perler beads, watercolors, painting with acrylic paints on canvas, LEGOS, building forts, making up new games, dressing up and making a movie together, clay creations or decorating their rooms.
Outdoor time, in my opinion, is the most important thing my kids do during the day. Being outside jumping on the trampoline, going for a walk, riding bikes, playing in a nearby creek are things that help kids be kids. Being outside helps them exercise but the sunshine and fresh air is so good for everyone.
We also have a few things we try to encourage once a week like baking something new, trying a craft they’ve never done before or doing a science experiment together. Mommy Poppins has an extensive list of great at-home science experiments your kids can try. In the past I always had one thing I wanted to go and do with the kids every day. This usually included the Science Center, a museum downtown, the zoo, going to a local beach, playing in a river or creek or heading somewhere for a hike. This will be a little different this summer with museums and zoos at limited capacity. We’ll have to plan ahead for many of these things now. Time to up my game.
Chores are also a great way to get kids up and moving in the mornings and helps them to be held accountable for getting something done. We include things like water the garden, weed the flower beds, water the flowers, empty the trash in the house, empty the dishwasher, help with dishes. Helping to walk the dog or play with the dog in the yard would be great to include as well. Put your child in charge of setting a time to walk the dog so they feel the responsibility of it instead of mom or dad telling them when to go.
Summer Goal- Setting
Goal-setting can also be a great way to get kids thinking of ways to improve a skill and gives them something to work towards. You can add this to their daily or weekly schedule. Physical goals could include improving in their favorite sport or it could be a goal for how many books they want to read in a month. Encourage them to set a goal or two, write it down and then work a little each week to accomplishing that goal. When they’re bored, remind them of their goal!
So, what does a summer schedule look like? Here is an example:
- Reading: 45 minutes
- Writing: see prompt for the day; at least 5 sentences
- Math: 10 minutes of math app
- Creative time: 45 minutes
- Outdoor time: 1 hour
- Check chore calendar
- work on a goal
Once all these things are complete you can have 45 minutes of tech time!
I hope this helps to gain some routine and structure to your days with the kids at home more this summer. Your kids’ entire day doesn’t need to be structured; after all it’s important that kids play and use their imagination. This is intended to help them look back at the end of the summer and see all the different activities they were able to accomplish on their own.
Hopefully it’s fun along the way!