School is out, and our beautiful Northwest summer is coming into focus!
For kids, school can be exciting, stimulating, but also stressful. This is especially true in grades that are big bump up’s in demand—3rd grade, 7th grade, 9th grade, 11th grade, and freshman year in college. It’s a relief when these school years come to an end, but there are always new challenges ahead.
Summer vacation is a welcome relief to these stresses and strains and an opportunity for kids to relax. Parents take a break from their school year job of being the “homework police”. Today, school is demanding for parents too. Parents are asked to be far more involved in homework than in my generation. It can seem like Mom and Dad are going back to school too!
It’s a good time to consider—how did this school year go for our family? What were the highlights? And in our role as a homework coach—what were the challenges? What lessons did Mom and Dad learn? It’s a good time to reflect on the school year and consider what modifications and changes we might want to consider for next year.
It’s also important to think about the coming summer months. Here are some points to consider.
Sigh. I hope families take this seriously. I am increasingly concerned by the overconsumption of electronic distraction—social media, video games, constant texting to anyone and everyone, and everything else electronic. Remember moderation? If you let kids spend every waking minute in the electronic world, they will move there. You will never see them again. Have a dialogue with your children about what they want, then set limits that seem reasonable to you. It will be less than what they want. When you set a limit—stick to it! And just as importantly, trust but verify.
Keep them busy.
After the first week of doing nothing and enjoying every minute of it, kids will start to get bored, which can lead to trouble. Find activities for them that will keep them occupied—sports camps, recreation department activities, or volunteer work can be helpful. It’s helpful to save money during the year for these summer activities.
Give them chores to do around the house and make sure that they do them. It’s a good time for kids to work on household projects—like organizing their rooms.
Encourage older teens to work.
I’m a big believer in the value of summer jobs for teenagers. I had summer jobs starting in the 11th grade and through every summer during college. I also insisted that our kids find jobs too.
Parents can help this effort by using their contacts and connections to make it easier for teens with no job history to find a job. I knew the owner of our local coffee shop who agreed to hire my 17-year old daughter as a barista. She did such a great job, that the owner hired her sister when she was a junior. It was a great experience for my daughters who learned about the world of work at an early age.
Keep close tabs on your teenagers.
We called my oldest daughter’s junior July and August— “The summer of love”. She spent every minute with her boyfriend, and nickeled and dimed us into bankruptcy over her curfew. We learned the hard way--keep a close eye on your teens during the summer months. The wide-open days can lead to all kinds of mischief. Know where they are, where they’re going, who they’re with, and which adults are home. Kids like to wander from place to place. Somehow, they forget to use their cellphone to let you know where they are, despite the fact that you are paying for it!
Plan some summer fun for the family.
My kids loved our family vacations to Cape Cod on the East Coast. They still want to come— But now they bring along their husbands and children.