Think back to your best childhood summer. Was it action packed, or full of lazy days? Did you spend time with family, visit your grandma down South, or just run around the neighborhood with friends? Maybe your memories include helping your dad out at the office, working a summer job, or taking on a challenging internship. Keep those memories in mind and follow these guidelines to plan a summer your kids will remember forever.
Talk to your kids:
Start by asking your kids what a great summer would look like for them. Give them a few options and let them imagine what it could be like. It doesn't mean you won't sign them up for something they might be somewhat reluctant to do, but at least give them a voice in the process.
Collaborate with friends and family:
Summer comes with the headache of creating a whole new schedule for you and your children. To ease some of the burden, team up with a neighbor, friend or family member for some of your summer planning. Sign your kids up for the same activities and then create a schedule for sharing rides, lunch prep, and coverage for those gaps when your children are released before the workday is over.
Take advantage of early bird specials:
Not only does signing up early ensure that your child will get into the camps and activities he or she is most excited about; it can also mean that you won't be spending quite as much money. Many summer camps offer early sign up discounts, or scholarships to those who ask, so don't wait until the last minute to register.
Combat the "summer slide":
When it comes to academics, kids have the potential to lose a lot of what they learned over the summer. Whether your child is a struggling reader or an outstanding student, it's important that they continue to maintain and strengthen those school-related brain connections. Make sure you have a public library card and that your kids are reading something anything all summer long.
Build in down time:
When we were kids, boredom felt like the worst thing ever. Now, smartphones and other devices have ensured our kids almost never have to be bored and frankly, it's a little concerning. Having free space in your brain has been linked to creativity and deep thinking. Even if your kids don't mind having an action packed summer, be sure to schedule in some time for relaxing, rest, just hanging out and, yes, boredom.
Limit kids' screen time:
School provides a built-in mechanism for limiting your child's screen time. Without that structure, it's important to decide how much screen time is going to be acceptable and healthy for your child on a daily or weekly basis. Make sure there are guidelines for how long they can play video games or watch television, even if you're not around; and schedule device-free hours into your kids' daily routine.
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