When my kids were in elementary school, the first few days of summer vacation were always terribly unpleasant. There was lots of bickering & obstinate behavior. It finally dawned on me that they were struggling with the transition from school to the unstructured days of summer! Transitions are tough for kids, especially those who have ADD/ADHD tendencies. Although they were totally stoked for school to be over, getting into our summer groove was tough. Here are some ideas to ease the transition for you & your kids:
- Whether you’re home with kids, they’re with a caregiver, or they’re involved in camps, develop some kind of a structure, even if it is way more relaxed than during the school year. And, communicate the structure to the kids many times in different ways.
- For a few days or a week, the kids will be in transition, which often causes them to behave in ways they aren’t proud of. Just knowing this can help you cope. Also, tell them in age appropriate words that you understand they are struggling a bit, but it’s not okay to take it out on the people around them.
- At the beginning of the summer, brainstorm fun things that everyone wants to do and put all viable suggestions in a jar on little pieces of paper. Then, when you are trying to come up with an activity, you can reach into the jar and pull out a slip! One summer we set a goal to visit as many new parks (new in that we had never been there before,) as possible. See what Pop Sugar calls the Ultimate Nostalgic Summer Bucket List.
- Sure, elementary age kids generally don’t take naps anymore, but it is okay to set aside quiet time. This keeps kids from becoming too overstimulated and tired and builds in a sanity break for you or a caregiver.
- This one is related to the last one & really important; It is OK and in fact good, for kids to be bored sometimes! Our world is so noisy and full of mind-numbing entertainment and information. When our kids are over scheduled and constantly entertained, they don’t have a chance to let all the chaos clear and to think for themselves. Boredom teaches necessary skills and nurtures their brains in this way. This statement by Dr. Vanessa Lapointe is perfect, “Children need to sit in their own boredom for the world to become quiet enough that they can hear themselves.”
- Limit electronics to encourage outdoor play and other activities that the kids don’t get enough of during the school year. Did you know that kids actually grow more during the summer? They typically sleep more, eat more healthfully, exercise and have less stress in the summer so more growth hormones are produced.
- Try to allow for some spontaneity when you’re with your kids. They will see a side of you that is new and wonderful and you’ll make some amazing memories together.
- Designate kids’ shelves in the refrigerator and a cupboard. Stock with healthy snacks so kids can easily help themselves, as well as cups that can be used for water. This builds some self-reliance and keeps them from coming to you every 5 minutes saying “I’m hungry!”
- And of course, subscribing to Outside the Box Creation’s Kids’ Art Kits over the summer is a terrific way to prevent summer academic slide and give the kids an engaging & fun art project that doesn’t involve screens!