The school year is drawing to a close and summer will be here in a minute, with it the buzz of schoolkids ready to burst from the confines of their routine and be free. Never fear: a successful summer transition is within your reach. The change from classroom to summer setting need not be jarring—for you or your child (or your teen). Doing a bit of prep before summer’s arrival will ease you all into this change and set you up for a summer of grand memories and structured good times.
Here are some tips for a great and simple summer transition
Get Happy, Not Hungry
Find out the times your child had snack and lunch at school. Planning summer lunch initially at a similar time will help prevent hunger-induced meltdowns. My oldest had lunch at 11:15 everyday during the school year and that first summer following kindergarten I was perplexed by the fact that he totally lost it every day around noon. I was prepping lunch with a 12:30 delivery time. Once I figured out the difference in scheduling and made the appropriate adjustments, the meltdowns disappeared.
Your child just spent a nine months in school learning things using specific types of tools. Seasonal changes were taught using art, math, and reading skills. Scissors, glue sticks, stickers (even the dreaded glitter) are the means of expression to which your child has become accustomed. Plan ahead for a few of these types of projects and you’ll be ready to teach them about summer using water and food colouring! And don’t stop there, you can get them into the kitchen for some cooking basics—or even create birthday cards for use throughout the year: the options are endless and don’t have to be overly complicated or involved. Simple projects with clear outcomes are best and Pinterest has endless ideas to for you to borrow from. Pick one and enjoy (and keep a list of other ideas handy!)
Free play outdoors is a summer essential. Typically children have recess times throughout the day. Balls, swing sets, jump ropes, bike rides, sidewalk chalk…..all of these things spark imaginative play and encourage active behaviours. Moving and grooving in a variety of ways makes anytime a fun time of day. Blow bubbles to music, work on fine motor skills by writing the alphabet on the pavement with chalk, walk a pet and note the different things you see and smell. The outdoors are awesome and summer is the best time to soak it all in.
Each day set aside 30 minutes (more or less depending on the age of your child) for quiet time. This can mean anything from nap time to reading and writing quietly—on their own. I found that my children really needed this time to reset for the afternoon. The younger ones nearly always fell asleep, while my older children completed library program reading requirements, kept journals, or drew pictures that we could send to family across the globe.
Community education programs offer everything from sports to dance to art (good idea, keep the glitter out of the house.) Two of my children took ASL classes, while another gave soccer a go. Contact your child’s school, local government office, or mother’s group for information on options in your area. Many of the clubs they have joined during the school year offer summer camp options—dance camp, basketball camp, etc.
At the start of the summer we sit down and brainstorm local places that my children want to visit. The sky is the limit during the brainstorming. We then look at a calendar and figure out how many weeks we have and zero in on what they really want to do. The goal is to visit one of these places every week if they are local (every other week if they’re in adjacent cities.) Our activities range from outdoor sculpture parks, city libraries, zoos, art museums, lakes (and/or swimming pools), state and county parks. Movie theatres often have a weekly children’s movie morning and free summer concerts in the park are amazing because you’re not locked in if your little ones have an off day, there’s bad weather, or a better option comes up.
What things did you do as a child? Rollerskating? A drive-in movie? Expose your child to something you did when you were younger and talk about the similarities and differences to the same option today. It’s a great chance to bond and share a little about your younger self with your child.
This season is full of opportunities to enjoy your kids and the world around you. For an easy summer transition from school to summer, stretch your routine a bit to find the fun—the memories will follow.