School is Out! Summer is On!
Woo hoo! School is out! I hear a huge sigh of relief from kids, parents, and teachers. By June, everyone is ready for vacation. School is the kid equivalent of adult work. Their childhood job is to go to school every day—pay attention in class, complete homework, take tests, finish projects, and later on, write papers. For young children it’s fun—but as the years go on, it can be stressful. The pressure is off for the next two months.
This is a good time for parents to reflect on the school year. How did it go for your youngsters? What went well? What could use some improvement? What was stressful? Were there any patterns? Some kids start slow in the fall, but get in gear as the year goes on. Other kids are strong starters, but sputter out as the year progresses. Moms and Dads may have had goals for both themselves and their kids. How did you do? It’s a good time for reflection. And, it’s a good time to start thinking ahead for the next school year. Sadly, it will be here before you know it.
But summer brings it’s own share of challenges too. During the long days of summer, teenagers stay up late and sleep late. Keeping in touch and tracking them down can be hard. Teens don’t stay in one place very long. They like to wander from one place to the next. They have no idea where they will be three hours from now! Going over to Bill’s house may last only an hour, before Bill and your kiddo head over to Mary’s house.
During the summer, teens have less structure, more freedom, and more opportunity to get into trouble. At least during the school year you know where they are during school hours! Unfortunately, for older teens, summer jobs are far more difficult to find in the current economic climate. This results in more kids with unstructured, unproductive time on their hands.
After the first week of summer vacation, and kids have had their movie and video game pig-outs, it’s a good time to establish some ground rules for the summer. It’s important to establish a summer curfew, expectations about chores and responsibilities, and clear guidelines for communication. Sure, let the kids have a little more slack, but not too much! Those inches can rapidly become yards! And before you know it, Joe is coming home at 1 a.m. in the morning!
For younger children, it is important to keep them busy and active. Sitting in front of computer and television screens hours on end is a bad idea! Fortunately, local recreation departments have a wide range of summer activity camps that can be fun and stimulating (http://www.snocoparks.org/). Local YMCA’s also offer a variety of activities for kids of all ages. Salt and pepper these summer activities throughout the next two months. It will keep your children busy and looking forward to the next activity.
It’s a tough time for single working parents. Money is tight and it is hard to put together a plan for keeping kids busy during the summer. Try to connect with other families and see if your kids can’t piggyback on their activities.
And of course, summer is a great time for the annual summer trip to the mountains, the ocean, or to your favorite vacation spot! Check out one my previous posts for suggestions on how to enjoy those summer sojourns. This summer, we are going back to Cape Cod once again. Our 30-year-old daughter is joining us and so is my 90-year-old mother!
And finally, don’t forget about sun protection for your kids! Sunburns are bad for their health! Frequent applications of sunscreen are important, as are hats and shirts. Make sure that they (and you) liberally apply sunscreen in the morning before they head outside.
Have a great summer!
How are you keeping your kids occupied this summer? Share your ideas and discoveries!