Summer is practically here, and you know what that means? That’s right, schools all over the U.S. are closing their doors and going on summer vacation; but before you think about driving off to get to your vacation home, take a second to think about the importance of structure in your child’s life.
Since children thrive off the structure, it’s important that parents get them accustomed to routines. Whether kids are waking up in the morning before school, or going outside to play, they need routines to establish good habits. Kids don’t have too much control in their lives, but routines can give them a sense of organization, stability, and most importantly, independence.
In return, this should help children develop good behavior skills and a sense of personal control. When adults provide an environment that feels safe, children learn that they can trust others around them to help care for them. In other words, routines not only have emotional benefits but health benefits as well.
Summer schedules may sound like an oxymoron to some parents, but kids need them. Some children, for example, can experience a loss of cognitive ability during summer break, according to the National Summer Learning Association. By encouraging mental stimulation throughout summer, parents can help their child maintain a high level in math, reading, and spelling. Research by the NSLA also shows a positive effect on children when they’re enrolled in summer learning programs, compared to children who aren’t.
Most parents worry about over-scheduling their families, but Mollie Grow, a pediatrician in Seattle, says there is also such thing as “under-scheduling.” Although it’s important to have fun, take breaks, and play a little, routines give kids something to rely on during the summer, when they have more time and less supervision.
Ways Parents Can Handle Playtime
It’s important for stay-at-home dads to build playtime into their child’s day-to-day activities. This gives children an enjoyable activity to look forward to and allows them to burn off their energy. As a parent, be sure to plan what to do with your child’s free time. Some activities could include visiting a park, playing with LEGOs, or building a fort and playing board games. Change up the activity to keep your child engaged.
Of course, if you have older children who play team sports, you won’t have much of a choice when practice starts. However, it’s important to plan your schedule accordingly if it’s your responsibility to pick up your child from practice or games. Schedule your day so that you can still meet the needs of your child and complete your normal tasks even on practice days. Having a child who plays sports shouldn’t interrupt your entire day.
Ways to Keep Routine and Have Fun This Summer
Plan family time. Go on bike rides, hikes, or host a family barbecue for that matter. Or think big and plan a camping trip. Parents who model strong, healthy relationships and involve their kids in decisions about certain family activities will give those children the opportunity to express their voices. For younger children, parents can offer simple choices, such as, “Would you rather go to the beach or water park?” By giving your child an option, they’ll start to feel more involved in the decisions being made.
Are you and your family on a budget? If so, don’t worry. There are lots of low-cost options for families who want to engage in summer activities. The YMCA, for example, offers tons of great outdoor activities to children during the summer.
Allow them to socialize with other kids. For kids, in particular, being outside and participating in outdoor activities builds social skills. Going to the park, for instance, allows children to gain confidence as they play on the monkey bars, and ride their bikes.
Volunteer as a family. Volunteering offers vital help to people who are in need, and the community also benefits from it. As a matter of fact, volunteering and helping others can also help you and your family reduce stress and keep you all mentally stimulated. Although volunteering provides a wealth of benefits to the family, it doesn’t have to involve a long-term commitment or take a large amount of time out of your day.
Spending time with your family can be an amazing asset to a child’s development, both physically and mentally. Family time can also improve a child’s vocabulary skills and understanding of the world. Enjoy the long summer days and plan outings as a family.
Remember to have fun this summer. Take a break, relax in the sun, and incorporate structure into your child’s summertime schedule.
Thanks for the read! I’m curious to know, what are some other ways parents can incorporate summer routines into their child’s summer schedule? Feel free to leave a comment below.