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Summertime Structure

by Heather

Summer fun

Children all over the city are excitedly anticipating the beginning of summer! Ready for a break from the routines and demands of school, they imagine long, lazy and carefree days. Parents, on the other hand, veterans of summers past, are anticipating endless repeats of “I’m bored,” increasing restlessness, struggles over media use and sibling conflict.

Over the last several weeks, I’ve been consulting with parents about how they can use structure to ease some of the summer tensions and flare ups so commonly experienced. Here’s a few quick tips to consider:

  • As a family create a list of activities and events you want to participate in over the summer. This allows everyone to contribute ideas and also comes in handy when children and adults alike can’t think of something to do!
  • Be clear about your expectations for summer media use. Naturally, your children are expecting that the rules that applied during the school year are no longer in effect. I encourage families to emphasize the importance of balance and identify other activities they want to see their children engaged in such as reading, outdoor play, spending time with friends, contributing to family chores and family activities.
  • Create a flexible daily routine. Children are happier and more content when there is some predictability to their day. You may want to break your routine into chunks: morning, afternoon and evening and assign general tasks or activities to each. Creating a daily routine can naturally support the media limits you’ve established by identifying when your children can watch TV or play video games and for how long.
  • Keep a family calendar posted so that children can anticipate the day’s and week’s events.
  • Make a plan with your children so that they can stay in touch with their friends over the summer. Older children may resist the idea of parent-scheduled “play dates,” so encourage them to take charge of setting up some opportunities to get together with friends.
  • Maintain some consistency in your family’s sleep schedule. When children are chronically sleep deprived, it effects their energy, mood, learning and growth. Emphasize playing hard during these summer months and also getting 8-10 hours of quality sleep.
  • Create opportunities to be challenged! School may be out but the learning doesn’t need to stop. This is a great time to identify some goals for your child or your family as a whole and if you add elements of play, it can be fun for everyone.
  • Communicate your expectations for media use and routine to your summer caregivers so that they can support your goals.

Here at NCA, we are wishing you all a wonderful, warm and sunny summer full of new family memories!

Explore the links below for local resources for summer activities and planning:

PDX Kids Calendar

Washington County Library

Tualatin Hills Parks and Rec

Hillsboro Parks and Rec

Metro Parent

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