10 Ways to Maintain Structure for Kids over Summer
Summer is already around the corner! It's a great time for everyone to relax, recharge, and catch up on sleep and socialization that often gets sacrificed during the school year. However, too much downtime can be problematic for some kids and lend itself to unhealthy habits that can be tough to break once school starts again. Even though this past year was far from normal for the majority of families, summer is a good time to create better structure and habits for your kids that will ensure the transition back into the next school year is a lot smoother for everyone. Read below to learn what you can do.
1) Create a daily or weekly schedule. All kids do better with predictability and structure. A schedule can help both parents and kids know what to expect each day and keep kids engaged in tasks they may not think to initiate themselves.

2) Enroll your child in summer programs or camps. Now that camps and activities are able to open up safely, it is the perfect opportunity to re-engage your child with other kids. Doing so over the summer will also help kids who may have anxiety about going back to in-person school this fall increase their confidence in a more fun and relaxed setting.

3) Make sure they get daily physical activity. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids get at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day. Consider having your child try a new sport or come up with fun family exercise ideas like exploring a new local hike or bike trail.

4) Try to keep as normal of a sleep schedule as possible. Summer usually means a break from daily alarm clocks and extra time to stay up late watching TV and playing video games. While kids should enjoy their well-deserved break, maintaining a good sleep schedule over the summer will ensure they are getting enough quality sleep and will have fewer difficulties transitioning back to their normal schedule when school starts again.

5) Involve them in household chores. When the school year is busy, chores may take a back seat to homework and other extracurricular activities. However, use this opportunity to get them involved in the day to day family chores. This can teach them a sense of responsibility and pride that they are able to contribute to the family. For more success, make chores fun by timing them, turning them into a game, or building in rewards for more difficult tasks.

6) Encourage some educational activities. Summer can be a long time to break from educational and cognitive tasks. Encourage your kids to engage in something educational each week. You can have them pick their favorite books to read or choose a science or math activity that they are interested in. Summer educational activities may eliminate the stress of homework and deadlines and allow your child to develop an enjoyment of learning.

7) Limit time spent on screens and electronics. This may the toughest challenge parents face over summer (and all year long!). However, if you provide your child with a schedule of all the other activities listed above, they will naturally have less time to spend on their screens because they will have other things to keep them busy. Set your expectations for how much screen time they are allowed ahead of time to optimize compliance.

8) Allow your child to be bored at times. Maintaining structure does not mean overscheduling your child either. Boredom actually encourages a lot of skills that kids need to be successful, including creativity and problem-solving. If kids never have the chance to be bored, they are limited in their abilities to use their imagination and to take initiative.

9) Maintain your normal rules and expectations. It's okay to have some flexibility with rules (i.e., later bedtimes). However, keeping your expectations as consistent as possible may reduce defiance and negotiation battles later when you suddenly start enforcing school day rules again.

10) Start getting back into your school routine before the school year starts. This is especially important when it comes to sleep. Some kids, especially those with anxiety, may need more practice and preparation than others to get back into their school routines. Start with getting sleep schedules back to normal and build in other parts of your school routine, such as preparing lunches, planning clothes, packing their bags, etc.
We wish you all a fun, safe, and restorative summer from all of us at the Mind Health Institute, Newport Beach and Laguna Beach teams!
For more information, please contact us directly at
outreach@mhi-nb.com -or- (949) 891-0307.
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