For many families, the start of summer means different schedules, activities, and priorities. While your child may be looking forward to longer days and summer vacations, a routine is still important. According to Dr. Peter Gorski of Harvard Medical School, knowing what to expect from daily life can develop a child’s confidence. A regular routine can also reduce their stress and help them gain greater self-control.
Here are a few ways you can transition from your family’s school routine to the summer routine.
Discuss your child’s feelings
According to psychologist Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore, changes can be difficult for children, even if the changes are good. Children may feel sad about leaving their classmates or teachers, or may feel anxiety when leaving their familiar environment. They may also feel nervous about a milestone when the next school year starts, such as a child who is leaving preschool and starting Kindergarten.
Begin to discuss the transition with your child, and encourage them to talk about how they feel. Listen respectfully and let them know that whatever they are feeling is okay. You can also help your child by sharing stories of a time you overcame a fear, or reminding them about a time they dealt with a scary situation.
Retain elements of their school-year routine
Your child may have an easier time transitioning into their summer routine if it contains familiar elements from their school-year routine. You may not drop your child off at school every day during the summer, but you can make a habit of daily walks around the area after lunch. You can also maintain their school-year morning or evening routines, such as the time they wake up and eat breakfast, or choosing their outfits the night before.
Your child may also enjoy setting up part of their day as if they were still at school. For example, if your child was fond of drawing and painting at school, you can work on art projects together during the summer. Talk to your child’s teacher for suggestions on carrying over your child’s favorite school activities to home.
Keep in touch with friends
School is a fun social environment for most children, and there is often no reason why they can’t see their friends on a regular basis during the summer. Talk to the parents of one or two of your child’s closest friends and see if you can arrange regular play dates, perhaps weekly or twice per month. You may also consider enrolling your children in a summer activity together, such as swimming lessons or art classes. This way, not only will your child have a regular activity as part of their summer routine, but they’ll be able to stay in touch with their friends.
Create a summer family calendar
Part of the reason a routine is important for children is that it helps them to prepare for the events in their lives, whether these are everyday occurrences or less regular occasions. Creating a summer family calendar can provide a quick, at-a-glance way for your child to understand what they can expect during the next few weeks. This is an ideal activity for the whole family. Spend some time together creating a visual calendar where everyone can see classes, trips, meals, and other important things. Keep this calendar in a place where every family member can reference it often.
As always, the ideal summer schedule depends on your family. Sit down together and discuss your goals for the summer, and what you hope to accomplish. Everyone is different, but together you can transition into a summer family routine that works for you.