There’s no time of year a school-age child loves more than summer vacation. Summer is the season of pool parties, later bedtimes, and – do we even need to say it? – no homework! But for parents, summer can present a seemingly endless series of balancing acts: work and childcare, freedom and boredom, fun and learning. How can you help your kids make the most of all that leisure time? And how can all those fun-filled activities support your child’s growth and development, too?
Fear not, stressed parents! Check out these five tips for a fun, stress-free, and educational summer break:
1. Regulate Media Use
It’s almost inevitable that children will spend more time in front of TVs, computers, and tablets over the summer than they do during the school year. But how do you keep that increase in screen time from turning into hour after hour of scrolling and staring? Start by limiting use of electronics to pre-defined, clearly divided periods of the day. For every block of time spent on devices, institute an equal period of reading time, outdoor adventure, or creative indoor play. JEM Wellness counselors know the benefits of moderation when using technology and can help you develop more strategies that work for your family.
2. Keep Them Active
As mentioned above, physical activity is a key part of keeping summer vacation constructive, but some kids are more naturally inclined toward it than others. For kids who may not yet have found their niche in athletics or fitness, don’t be afraid to try out different camps and programs that promote different ways of staying active. If competitive sports aren’t your child’s cup of tea, consider programs in dance, martial arts, or wilderness skills. If it’s too hot outside for casual games of basketball or Wiffle ball, check out indoor soccer or tennis programs that will keep your kids fit while they also stay cool.
Lack of interaction with peers over the summer can be an especially common problem for children without siblings. But even large families should be mindful of maintaining a social calendar with folks outside of their household unit. Look for programs held at libraries, parks and other family-friendly gathering places that allow kids to socialize on a budget and without long-term commitments. JEM counselors are also available to support children and families looking to build their social skills or struggling with the impact of social disorders.
4. School Reading Lists
Even though your school’s teachers and administrators may be taking some time off for the summer, they’ve probably still put some hard work into keeping your kids engaged during the summer months. Many schools will send out reading lists with recommendations for great books to enjoy while school is out of session. Make the most of them by reading along with your kids and setting aside time to share your thoughts on your favorite summer reads!
5. Family Activities
Although it might sometimes seem like a burden, the free time that summer vacation provides to your kids is really a blessing, creating plenty of opportunities for kids, parents, and extended family to spend time together. Family outings like picnics, baseball games, or weekend trips to the amusement park can all keep kids engaged while strengthening family ties. Parents’ job demands and financial obligations can sometimes make these activities difficult, but start by planning just one per month during the three months your children are out of school. JEM Wellness counselors bring plenty of experience and expertise in family counseling, and can find ways to bring your family together that fit your lifestyle and budget.
If you feel that JEM Wellness may have the right stress-relief expertise for you, our counselors are ready to help you take the next step for your mental health. Schedule a consultation today.