Nothing is better than the first few days of summer break. Everyone stays up later than usual eating watermelon and catching lightning bugs (or fireflies – depending on where you live). Kids run through sprinklers in the backyard and sell lemonade on the corner. Neighborhood kids meet at the local pond and try to catch that elusive fish that is a thing of legend.
And then the temperatures rise. The mosquitoes and ticks make their itchy presence known. Kids bicker over who gets the last blue popsicle. And every parent hears those dreaded words, “I’m bored.” At this point, you are probably three days into the summer break. This means it is time to create a summer schedule for kids.
Creating a schedule doesn’t mean you are zapping all the fun and magic out of summer. In fact, even though I know they won’t thank you for it, your kids will appreciate having a routine. They may not be able to articulate it, but kids, especially preschoolers, crave repetition and routine. It allows them to feel more independent, safe, and secure. Some behavior problems can be linked back to lack of structure. A schedule will help provide this structure.
Another benefit of having a routine is that it reduces stress and anxiety in children. Doing things “at the drop of a hat” can cause stress in many adults I know. Children are no different. Talk to your children about your plans for the day or week. For older children, make sure they have access to the family calendar. For younger children, write out your weekly plans. Use icons for the non-readers in the family.
One of the most important benefits of having a routine is to prevent the summer slide. Teachers report that re-teaching skills lost over the summer take between three to six weeks out of the fall semester. Scheduling time during your child’s day to study math facts or sight words or to read a book will give your child an advantage when he or she returns to school in the fall. There are many fantastic learning apps available, but take caution about relying too heavily on screens. If at all possible, have your children use paper and pencil for a few minutes each day during the summer.
Having a routine also helps you parent deliberately. We all want to be the best parents possible, but then life happens. We get sucked into our smartphones and become lazy. Having a written schedule keeps us accountable to hold our kids and ourselves to a higher standard.
Play Outside - Yes, you may have to schedule this activity. Give your kids sidewalk chalk, a bike, a shovel, or point them to a tree to climb.
Practice Sports - Do you have an aspiring soccer player? Have them practice dribbling and kicking. Make sure your child is swimming a few laps when you take them to the pool.
Practice Art, Sewing or Crafting – Some kids would be able to entertain themselves all day with a few popsicle sticks and some glue. Even if this isn’t your kid, try to find something for your child to do that encourages your child to use fine motor skills. Check out books from the library that give instructions on how to draw a favorite character. Check out the crafting classes at your local store. Order a Kiwi Crate. Kiwi Crates are age-appropriate science and art projects delivered to your home.
Note: Cadily will be giving away a one-year subscription to Koala Crate this summer! Stay alert to find out how you can win one for your family.
Complete Household Jobs – Schedule daily or weekly age appropriate chores to keep your kids in the routine of helping out around the house. Since it’s summer and kids will probably want new toys or games, consider adding incentives to chore completion. Keep track of the chores assigned and the rewards for completion with your Cadily Cash Reward Chart.
Explore Your Community – Visit your local library and explore new parks. Visit the zoo or science museum. I try to plan a trip to one museum or local spot each summer that we have never visited before. Also, check out the local theater events and concert series.
Read – Build in time each day for your child to read. Model this by checking out your books from the library, and then actually read them. It can be easy to let reading fall into a category of a chore to be “checked off” each day. If you want reading to be a natural and essential part of your child’s life, model that behavior.
Make reading time more of a reward rather than a chore. Say things like, “After you do your chores, you can read for a bit.” Share what you are reading with your child. Sign up for reading programs at the library and local and national bookstores. Decorate a comfortable reading nook for your child. Create a language-rich environment within your home. Read classics to your child – even if they can read on their own. It is important. The love of reading is one of the most significant gifts you can give to your child. Here's an age appropriate reading list for a recommended book for each age.
Give Back – Find a way for your child to help others in your community. Check with your local church to see if any older adults would enjoy a visit or help from your family. Have your children make cards and deliver them to a local nursing home. See if your local food bank needs help organizing or distributing products.
Of course, schedule plenty of “free time” within your schedule. In fact, your schedule can be more of a “to do” list, rather than an hour-by-hour schedule. If a play date spontaneously happens as a result of a visit to the park, don’t deprive your child of social interaction because he or she hasn’t read 10 minutes yet.
Summertime is a gift. Use this time so your child can build skills, gain confidence, AND have fun.
Are you looking for a routine chart for your preschooler? Great news: Our team at Cadily is currently developing one! Sign up for the Cadily newsletter for more information.