Summer is on the way. It is one of my favorite times of year. We hike, swim, explore, get sweaty and dirty. I love it! The kids love it. Popsicles, water guns, lakes and rivers. What's not to love!?
If you're a parent, there can be a lot to not love. Particularly when kids have been attending school, summer means a drastic change in routine. For working parents, which the US is largely made up of, it means trying to figure out where and how to keep the kids safe because school isn't an option. Daycare and nannies are pricey. Day camps or overnight camps can be too. Parents taking time off through the summer isn't always an option.
There are resources, though, for working parents. They might depend on your state, but your local library can be a wealth of information for finding programs. Also, the health departments usually have resources. Township offices often have names of businesses too. Kindercare, YMCA, and many schools have summer care options that are more affordable. Some even take government assistance.
Some of us are lucky enough to largely have summers off and be able to spend all our days with our kids. But what do we fill the school day void with? Kids, and parents, go stir crazy on the long summer days that lack structure. Many parents resort to old reliable--screens! But is that what we want our kids doing? Unlikely. There are pinterest pages dedicated to cool summer projects and crafts. Some require prep work. Some are messy. Your kids (and you) might not enjoy them. Blogs all over the internet are publishing articles just like this one. All you have to do is google "what to do with kids in the summer" and you will be inundated with suggestions. Some will be purely entertaining. Some will include academics warning against the "summer slide" referring to the typical loss of momentum when kids are out of school.
All these are great resources and suggestions for fairly typical families. But what about those of us with special needs or high needs kids? Our kids who crave more--activity, information, time, everything. Just more. In our family, summer continues school, but we do less intense work. Reading is a mainstay. Library trips are more common. Beaches and hiking trips are almost daily excursions. Board and card games for rainy days. Movie nights with popcorn on weekends. Sometimes, weekend trips too. Learning never stops, though. All the kids still do academics and music practice, but we might not hit every subject every day, and we usually do fun projects instead of intense study for science and social studies.
The routine and schedule have to find a way to be relatively similar to the more intense school year, and I have to write them out on the calendar. Will still needs to have his days pseudo predictable. Our lives are calmer when he knows what to expect. We still do breakfast at 8am. We do a little school until snack at 10:30am. Then some play or prep for an excursion. Then lunch. Then afternoon snack and more playtime. Finally, dinner and bedtime. Repeat ad nauseum. Thursday is an outlier as we farm that day.
If your littles are normally in school, and you are able to be home in the summers with them, the transitions can be far easier. The transitions from school to summer and back to school can be tricky and frustrating. Particularly for our kids for whom change us unwelcome. We can prepare them ahead of time to help ease their preparedness. Also, keeping the initial schedule as close to the school schedule and gradually adjusting to relax can help tremendously with the transition. Likewise, in the fall, beginning to assume a pseudo-school schedule can help the transition back to school.
Summer can be fun and less stressful if we keep some sort of schedule and a bit of school going at the same time. If you need more ideas for how to keep your specific child/family dynamic happy through the summer, let me know!