Surviving Summer Vacation

Surviving Summer Vacation!

Every parent and child care giver at home with a child in the summer can probably tell you how many days  left until Labor Day.

While summer can be an amazing time to connect with your children, it can also be draining to be home all summer long with children that demand constant time and attention.

 

Keep a Schedule and Develop a Routine

Schedules and routines are important for children because they need to know what’s coming next. If the schedule is consistent, children learn the pattern. Once a pattern is set, children can reasonably predict what is going to happen next.  Children do not enjoy change but deal with it best if they understand that it comes as part of a routine.

Schedules help build trust between child care providers and children. Young children begin to understand that adults will take care of their needs on a regular basis.  When children have too many unknowns, anxiety builds up and they start showing emotional reactions to the inconsistency.

For instance, they may cry or become irritable and take it out on other people. If they don’t have regular routines it starts showing in different ways. Children can throw tantrums and become irritable which is not fun for anyone involved.

Flexibility is also important.  If your child wants to play with bubbles for 45 minutes instead of 15 minutes, that’s absolutely fine. Schedules and routines are intended to help children remain engaged, happy, and healthy.

 

Make Rules and Define Expectations

How much screen time should your child have per day? Are there daily chores that need to be accomplished that they can help with? Where are meals to be eaten? These are all questions parents need to ask themselves.

Many parents expect that certain tasks be completed before a child can earn a certain amount of screen time.  Some popular ideas are:

  1. The child must get washed up, brush teeth, and make bed.
  2. The child must read for 30 minutes per day.
  3. The child must neaten up or clean his/her bedroom and complete any other chores. Some suggestions are: putting away laundry, putting away toys, helping with breakfast dishes, etc.
  4. The child must engage in at least 30 minutes of outdoor play (or inside gross motor activities like yoga or an exercise video)
  5. The child must do a creative activity — play with Legos, color, draw, play-doh, science projects, etc.

Children are less likely to argue with parents if these expectations have been clearly outlined.  Many children forget that electronics are a privilege and not a right.

 

Make a “Boredom Buster” List or “Busy Bags”

Boredom Busters are “filler activities” a child chooses from before declaring, “I’m bored!” These are suggestions that a child can use to influence his or her own play.

For example, one Boredom Buster might be to create a new board game.  Another might be suggestions for pretend play such as pretend you are running a restaurant.  Many people put these suggestions on small pieces of paper and fold them in a jar – what you pick is what you get!

Busy Bags can be used for any age group, but are fantastic for toddlers and preschoolers. Busy bags are simple activities stored in a bag for toddlers or preschoolers so they are always ready to go!

  •  They are engaging activities that your child can do independently.
  • They are great for playing during quiet time at home or to keep them busy while waiting for an appointment.
  • They can contain simple items such as multi-colored craft sticks that can be sorted by color.  You can also add Velcro to the ends of the craft sticks so that they can be connected to make shapes or letters.

 

Visit the Local Library and Join the Summer Reading Program

Every summer, local libraries participate with the Collaborative Summer Library Program.  The summer reading challenge offers children 0 – 16 prizes for participating. It also helps students prevent summer reading loss, which is the decline in children’s reading development that can occur during summer vacation when children are away from the classroom and not participating in formal literacy programs.

 

Seek out Enrichment Activities

Additionally, libraries offer other summer enrichment programs such as clay, messy play, robotics, Magic the Gathering Tournaments, etc.  Some benefits of attending summer programs at the library include:

  • Advance literacy and academic performance by engaging children and teens in reading and reading-related activities during the summer months.
  • Foster a love of reading through public library programs and services.
  • Increase successful reading experiences through librarian-supported, self-selected, voluntary reading.
  • Involve parents and all family members in the library summer reading experience.
  • Improve children’s access to library materials and activities, which will encourage them to become lifelong library users.
  • Increase the number of children and teens participating in public library summer reading programs.

Remember, summer is not meant to be stressful.  It’s meant to be a time to “recharge” the brain batteries, enjoy the heat, and explore new things!

 

By Jennifer Benn, Director of Daycare Registration and CACFP

 

Posted by Lauren Lottermoser