Are you one of those parents who see summer as an obstacle for your kids? Do you have the goal of ensuring that your kids stay active both physically and mentally? If so, you are not alone! What should a summer break be for a kid? Do you need to take it easy or should you focus on the mental and physical growth of your children? Yes, to both! And we have a few ideas how in our article below!

This article first appeared in The Grafton News: http://www.thegraftonnews.com/articles/keeping-your-kids-busy-this-summer/

 

Just because it’s summer break doesn’t mean that parents get the summer off. This time away from tests, homework, and structure just means that kids need new things to do. While this may be old news to most of the parents out there, it is still a reality check each year when school comes to a close. Over 30 percent of households in Grafton have kids under the age of 18, which means, there are many more parents like you out there.

While some kids look forward to joining one of the summer sports leagues or camps, others may cringe at the idea. Bottom line, kids can sometimes be picky, emotional, and have a demeanor that can scream “unmotivated.” Picture it now, your child has just reached a new personal record of consecutive hours in front of the television, on Facebook, and texting. While this may not be the proudest moment for a parent, some kids may say this was quite the productive day. Within the challenge of keeping your children busy throughout the summer months, it is helpful first to understand why and how maintaining structure and meaningful activity is vital to their well-being and even their upcoming school year.

Whether you are a parent working full-time outside of the home or are with your kid most of the day, a little bit of thought, mindfulness, and planning can make keeping your child mentally and physically active during the summer months much more manageable.

Let’s keep it simple. Research shows that a summer without an active mind and body have multiple downsides. First, academic retention over the summer without this type of stimulation drastically goes down which puts kids at a disadvantage going into the next school year by making the transition more challenging. Isn’t it tough enough?

Second, these adolescent years are crucial for developing communication and social skills, positive relationships, and healthy habits. Here are a couple of effective parenting strategies to help make navigating keeping your kids busy during the summer months a little easier.

For kids, communication on their level is essential. Very few want to hear about all the things they need, must, and have to do over the summer. Schedule a couple of uninterrupted sit-downs with them, so you won’t need to take on the entire season in one conversation. The first sit down should focus on your kid’s interests in how they want to spend their summer months, even if some of the ideas are unrealistic. Once you have a list, take a couple of days, and devise a plan for what is realistic and what may need to be compromised.

Take a trip to CVS and buy a calendar so when you sit back down with your kid, you can break it down by months instead of taking on the entire summer. Make it a goal to do one to two fun things (in the eyes of the child) each month. Take a step back after each sit down to see if you have a good balance of hitting the important categories, such as physical activity, mental activity, and social activity.

As parents, the summer isn’t simply about making your kid’s dreams a reality. Summer is also a time for your them to learn about the payoffs in being responsible. For some children, getting a part-time job, volunteering, or helping out around the house could be in the cards.

Having these opportunities for responsibility is important, but remember to communicate on their level. For instance, if your child is reluctant to get a job, help them with the search or possibly create a reward system to help them pay for something they want to save up for. Keep in mind that summer responsibility is most effective when they understand it’s meaning and purpose. While keeping your kids busy and safe during the summer is important, there is no harm in a little downtime for everyone (and yes, that includes you). Enjoy the warm weather, this great town, and most importantly time with family.

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