How to… Have the Best Summer Break Yet

After adopting our youngest son two years ago, we discovered the need to create more structure in our summers than we’d had previously. (Our oldest is very independent and keeps occupied easily.) The tips below are the result of what has worked well for us over the past two years and that look to make this third summer with him the best one yet!

  1. Know Your Priorities. Many parents save vacation time or adopt a modified work schedule for the summer months. Do this if at all possible. The challenge of summer break is only for a season, and parents whose kids are no longer at home stress the importance of making the most of every opportunity while the kids are still young as a top priority. If a changing work schedule isn’t an option, do what you can to make evenings and weekends as focused on family time as possible.
  2. Create Goals. Have goals to help motivate and focus you and your kids. Set reading goals summer, such as a certain number of books or completing a certain series. Set physical goals such as training for a 5k or exercising so many times a week. Set academic goals too, such as memorizing multiplication facts or completing a summer bridge workbook. Having goals gives kids a “go to” activity when boredom strikes. And, of course, have rewards for reaching goals too!
  3. Have Balanced Structure. Partly because my youngest needs structure and largely because I like sanity, we create a daily and weekly schedule. We allow for alone time, time together, and time out. We schedule TV and electronics time, and we schedule projects and activities such as cooking new foods, visiting interesting places, and playing with friends. We don’t schedule to the point of exhaustion but enough to avoid boredom.
  4. Be Flexible. Yes, we have a schedule, but we’re not fanatics about it. We allow for the spontaneous and unexpected such as weather changes, friends calling and those joyful moments when the kids come up with something to do together all on their own. We keep a list of summer activities to help create our schedule but remain flexible.
  5. Set Boundaries. Many kids would play video games and watch television all summer if they could. To avoid this, schedule media time into the day. Also, even though kids are at home, I still have work to complete. So, the office door closed means I need some time to write without disruption. The office door open means they can sit and talk to me while I work.  Also, they stay in their rooms until 8AM every morning and let me have time to exercise, pray and do devotions until 10AM. Setting these types of boundaries goes a long way in maintaining balanced structure.
  6. Get Input. Toward the end of the school year and when school first gets out, my boys and I spend time creating a list of summer activities. They usually have terrific ideas, and giving input creates excitement for the summer ahead.
  7. Include Mental Stimulation.  Tell kids they need to do schoolwork all summer to keep from losing what they learned during the school year, and they’ll look at you like you’re insane. But include mentally stimulating activities such as summer camps and going to the library or museums, and kids get excited. Get creative, but find ways to stimulate your kids’ minds.

Whether parents are home with their kids or not for summer break, the above suggestions provide ways to help make this summer break the best one yet. Take time within the next couple of days to go through these suggestions and create a plan of action. Oh yeah, be sure to write down what you come up with. My kids love looking at the schedule and list of activities to find out what’s coming up.

DISCUSSION: What suggestions do you plan on trying? What suggestions can you add?

Additional Resource: The article Keep Your Summer Organized by Simple Mom has some terrific suggestions that go well with today’s post. Check them out and let Tsh at Simple Mom know how great her ideas are!

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10 Replies to “How to… Have the Best Summer Break Yet”

  1. Because we homeschool, life in the summer is just like life during the school year, except easier! When my kids were younger, I always encouraged them to play outside a lot. Plus we had lots of sleepovers, vacation Bible schools (they usually went to more than one), days at the lake, walks and bike rides to the store, music at the park, etc. I miss those days! Now we only have one 16 year old home and one college kid home for the summer. Life is great, but I miss all that action in the house.

    1. I have several friends who homeschool their kids. They look forward to summer break as much as I do, if not more. Like you said, it's easier. Thanks for your ideas too!

      1. Kari, I love the way you come up with a list of points. You always have such helpful insights and it's easy to capture them with your numbered lists. I need to try writing more posts like that!

        1. Thanks! I think the lists are the teacher in me, or maybe it's the melancholy personality. Either way, it's how I think, I guess. Appreciate the positive input.

  2. Some excellent stuff, Kari. If we were a young family, we would find your summer-break advice helpful. Where were you when our son was a kid? Of course, where was the Internet when he was a kid? Since we lived both in Wisconsin and Russia during his school years, summer became a time for outdoor adventures. My son and I took public transportation to the edge of our Russian city then hiked the hills and woods.

    1. Thanks! My boys and I would LOVE to hike in the hills and woods like that (my husband too, if he's not working). Adopting a child has made such a huge impact on our lives, this is just one of them, and I am so thankful for that!

  3. Mine are only 4 and 1, so every day is summer break as far as they're concerned 🙂 But I can see the boundaries part being so important. I remember being young and just watching way too much TV and playing way too much video games.

    1. Boundaries and structure are definitely important at any age. I believe my 13-year-old is so responsible today because of those instilled in Him as he grew up. This not of myself at all. I had great mentors guiding me through this. Yeah, I watched way too much TV too (soap operas, I'm embarrassed to say), but we didn't really have video games. Atari was just coming out, and I think we had Mario Bros too. (you figure out how old I am from that one, right?)

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