Summer is here, and with school out, it’s time for caregivers to entertain their kids at home for the next eight weeks. While the summer months are fun, they can also be challenging for parents who need to work, care for their children, and plan engaging and educational activities. That’s where the power of a super summer routine for kids comes in!
Just like sunscreen and fresh-squeezed lemonade, a strong routine will be your best friend during the summer season. You might think that sticking to a schedule is boring or limits spontaneity, but it’s quite the opposite. In fact, if you ask any early education teacher about the secret to a successful classroom, they’ll probably emphasize the importance of a solid routine. Children love going through their daily schedule, checking off tasks, and looking forward to what comes next.
A solid daily routine offers numerous benefits:
- Provides structure and predictability
- Reduces anxiety and stress
- Helps fight boredom
- Makes time pass effortlessly
- Prevents tantrums and meltdowns
- Gives a sense of confidence and security
When creating your family’s summer routine, consider including the following areas:
- Self-care (getting dressed, brushing teeth, bath time)
- Meals and snacks
- Clean up time (picking up toys, helping with meal prep)
- Outdoor activities (park, pool, playground, walks)
- Unstructured playtime (toys)
- Screen time
- Learning activities (science experiments, reading, Playlearning™)
- Errands (dentist, doctor, grocery store)
- Special outings (library, museums, parties)
6 Tips: Summer routines for kids
1. Break it up
Break the day into organized times such as early morning, breakfast, late morning, lunch, afternoon, and so on. Develop a routine that allows kids to play outside after breakfast and have quiet, unstructured playtime after lunch.
2. Super schedules
Creating an interactive schedule can be a game-changer. Set up a designated area on the wall that kids can reach and label it as the “Summer Schedule.” Cut out and laminate “Daily Routine” cards and stick them along the wall in the order that kids should go through them.
Consider having a large calendar for kids to practice days of the week and look forward to upcoming special events. Throughout the day, refer back to the “Summer Schedule” area and have your child show you what they’ve already done and what’s left in their day.
To maintain consistency, designate specific days of the week for different activities. For example, you can do morning yoga every Monday and Wednesday, and go to the pool every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. This way, when your child asks what you’re doing that day, you can refer to the specific day’s activity, fostering predictability and a sense of control.
3. Fighting boredom
Fighting boredom is crucial, especially for older children who may complain of being bored. To combat this, have a list of activities ready for them to choose from when they’re feeling bored.
Some ideas include puzzles, paint by numbers, reading books, conducting science experiments, playing board games or cards, listening to music, dancing, creating a mud kitchen, watching art videos, or building an obstacle course.
4. Learning opportunities
One of the biggest concerns during summer is the “learning slide.” However, keeping your child’s mind sharp doesn’t mean forcing them to study at a table every day. Summer is an excellent opportunity for hands-on learning.
For example, you can make a delicious summer recipe together and use problem-solving to measure the correct amount of ingredients to reinforce math skills. Exploring the water cycle by observing melting ice cubes outside on a hot sidewalk is another fun way to learn about life science. Listening to podcasts for kids or writing a story together about a summer adventure helps brush up on literacy skills.
5. Manage screen time
Remember, screen time doesn’t have to be mindless. Make it clear how much time kids can spend on the screen each day. Dr. Barbara Gablehouse, a retired pediatrician and member of the Lingokids Board of Educators, recommends that children spend at least an hour outside before looking at a screen. When children do make use of their screen time, it’s beneficial to ensure that it’s active learning time versus passive.
6. Keep it flexible
It’s okay to be flexible during the summer. While a routine is beneficial, allow room for relaxation and some rule-breaking, such as letting kids stay up past their bedtime or enjoy an extra popsicle for lunch. Adapt the routine gradually over the first weeks of summer and take note of what works or doesn’t work for your family.
Ultimately, summer is a time to go with the flow and enjoy watching your kiddos play. Embrace the power of a summer routine and make the most of this special time with your children.
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Parents, what are your summer routine hacks for kids?
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