The final school bell has rung for the 2018-2019 school year and summer is here. These are the days they write songs and poetry about with vacations, sleeping in, second helpings of dessert and time with extended family. However, for some families it can be hard to step away and relax. Upper School Counselor Jodi Manton offers tips to help parents establish a semi-structured summer for themselves and their children.
1. Schedule structured time
Manton says a semi-structured summer means that students still have opportunities for learning and development, but without the regimented school schedule. She says in her own household they strive to have one structured hour in the morning and one structured hour in the afternoon during summer vacation. The structure varies depending on the age of the child and could simply include dedicated reading time. Manton refers to this as DEAR time or Drop Everything and Read Time where everyone in the household reads. Middle and Upper School students received summer reading assignments which could be completed during DEAR time. Lower School families received a Step Up packet prior to leaving for the year. Parents may want to use this as a guide for activities and practice during structured times for younger students.
2. It’s ok to have free time
“It’s ok for them to just be kids sometimes,” says Manton. There is value in free play and free time. During these times of exploration, children experience critical social/emotional growth. As children are given the freedom to make choices in regards to how they spend their time, their creativity and imagination is sparked. They also develop responsible decision-making skills and as they make new friends at camps or other activities they hone their social skills.
3. Be flexible
Manton says families should make decisions based on what is right for their child and their family. “Listen to your gut and trust your instinct,” she says. She says learning should be a joyful experience and summer is a perfect time to celebrate this joy. Parents should also be aware that summer days can get away from you and you may not accomplish everything you hoped for and that is ok. “Tomorrow is a new day,” she says.
4. Foster the family bond
No matter if the family is traveling abroad or planning a staycation, Manton says summer is the time to bond as a family unit. Without the stress of a schedule, families can take time to be together. She says strengthening that family bond now will certainly pay off once the first school bell rings again and homework, class projects and social obligations get underway.
However you spend your summer, we hope you make memories that last a lifetime. Before you know it summer will be gone and school will begin again. Have a great summer Knights!