Do you create a master calendar for your family? There are so many digital options that make appointments and after school activities easier to track. Furthermore, these apps make things shareable between family members and help make pickups and drop-offs clearer. If an online calendar does not appeal to you, a paper calendar works just as well. I religiously create a summer calendar with my kids each year. It is important for kids to visually see what’s happening on a day to day basis. It can be helpful for kids who are hands on learners to physically cross off what happened yesterday and look at what’s coming tomorrow. At school kids are used to their teachers posting the daily agenda where the class can see it. That is why at home I find that it works better for everybody to use that strategy when approaching summer.
Structure and Rhythm
The idea of summer is so fun, but can be so vague for some kids. Do they still go somewhere everyday? For how long? When do things begin and end? What is the same and what’s different? Each year I struggle to find the right balance of planning a structured summer and enough down time to feel rested. Writing it all out and posting it visually in a calendar format gives me some reassurance that I’m on the right track and I do have a plan for summer.
For older kids who thrive with the routine, this Summer Break Planner looks awesome for helping them get and stay organized. It also has a journal component for kids to reflect!
With my younger kids, I capitalize on the free library programs, any drop-in class or weekend festivals. Its important to our family to keep up with summer reading or even do one a Summer Bridge books to minimize the summer slide (when kids lose 25% of what they’ve learned). A mix of slow mornings and fun day-long outings work for my crew, but 10 weeks of unstructured time can be daunting.
There are so many great summer camp options around the seacoast. Planning for summer 8 months in advance can feel overzealous, but you will be happy that you are prepared when summer comes. Some camps have generous cancellation policies so it never hurts to check to see if a spot opened up if you missed registration.
Prediction of Time and Expectations
Even though we aren’t singing the “days of the week” song in July, it is important for kids to keep a sense of time. They should start to get the hang of a full day/half day camp, a quick swim lesson or a longer trip to the beach. I find myself fielding a lot of questions from my kids about “What is happening tomorrow?” Its easier for everyone to have a visual reference of our summer calendar on the fridge to answer a question, instead of the inevitable “I’ve answered you FIVE times already…..” narrative.
Anticipation of FUN
We all love a good countdown to a trip or an exciting event. Putting something special in bold or a different color on our summer calendar lets my kids know when things are coming up. Conversely, the anticipation of school starting up again is also there, as much as I sometimes want to deny it! Planning some back-to-school shopping and last beach picnics are important to commemorate another summer coming to a close.
I am a pediatric occupational therapist. Addressing visual motor skills, executive function and other related calendar work are part of my interventions with my students. I use visuals both in my practice and in my parenting. Even though my caseload dwindles in the summer, its important for kids to keep up their skills so they don’t lose ground and have to play catch-up in September.
Here are some other tips:
- I have my kids X out the days on our summer calendar as we go to help them mark where we are.
- Each family member gets their own “color” for the summer calendar. There is a “key” in one corner to remind us of that. The entire family is coded its own color.
- If they are pre-reading age, a little symbol with the word can help – like a sun for the beach, or a wave for swim.
- I post our summer calendar in a central location, at a level where its easily checked by my youngest.
- We stick to the house rules, “green time before screen time” and making sure that everyone is reading 30 minutes a day. Sometimes its an audio book or a podcast if we are travelling.