Now that summer is upon us and our children are off from school we have the pleasure and the pain associated with lots of free time. Although my 13-year-old has times throughout the summer where her schedule is booked with camps, classes, and structured events, there are those wide gaps where she has the freedom to choose what her day will look like. Her schedule is solidly booked during the school year, so summer is an opportunity for her to choose what to do during her downtime or to choose to do nothing at all and just relax.
Handle it Gently
Without being overbearing but at the same time wanting to create a sense of objectives, I sat down with my daughter to discuss the importance of her mapping out the next few months so that she makes the most of her summer break.
At the end of our efforts, we had developed a Google doc for her to complete that asked for the following considerations:
We asked her to set limits on the amount of time she felt appropriate for her to be connecting on social media or browsing the Internet, watching videos, or playing games.
We then asked her to determine what reading assignments or other school-related assignments she needs to complete over the summer and also pick out some books that she plans to read that are not part of her required reading. Similarly, we asked her to list other academic-related tasks that she will complete.
Another area that we felt would be helpful, was for her to identify the friends who she wants to connect with over the summer and perhaps write down times that she knows they will be in town or away. This would make it easier when we want to schedule and plan things or have spur of the moment play dates.
Take advantage of the time off
Summertime is a great opportunity when extra time enables us to try new things or work on improving things that we already do. With this in mind we asked for her to think about ways in which she may spend time learning new skills, trying out a new sport, or doing something that’s a little out of the ordinary and that she wouldn’t generally have the chance to do during the school year.
We then asked her to think of volunteer opportunities that she would be interested in participating in such as caring for animals at the Humane Society or being volunteer tutor or camp counselor to younger children.
There are also chores and family responsibilities we expect of her. Having those listed with frequency and times and when they need to be done is extremely helpful. This way she knows how much time there is for work and for play.
Continue after Summer is Over
Once our summer game plan is completed we add target dates and reminders on the calendar so that in addition to scheduled camps, theater productions, and taekwondo classes, our child has some reminders and a framework that she can use to navigate the goals that she has set for herself. Hopefully, our summer checklist and a calendar schedule will ensure that these activities and plans actually happen.
With all this said, my goal is not to overbook or over-stimulate her during the summer vacation but rather to keep her from falling into an area of too much time with not much happening. Left to their own devices, it’s easy for our children, (just like it is for us) to lose track of time and spend endless hours on social media and idly staring at computers and televisions.
To optimally plan for the summer, I developed a tool to guide us which you can access via the below link. I hope you and your family find that it facilitates your children’s time, activities and priorities!