Settling into Summer

BY DR DAN

It’s here, the moment your kids have been waiting for – summer vacation. You have been waiting for it, too! A break from all the homework, after school activities, sports, enrichment classes, music, and more. Finally, a break! But is it? If only a few weeks into summer, you are asking “what date does school start?” you are not alone.

Do any of these statements sound familiar?

“I’m bored”
“I have nothing to do”
“Why do I have to get off the computer?”
“I don’t want to go to camp?”
“I just want to relax and do nothing”
“Summer is my break. Why can’t I do what I want?”

Welcome to the reality of summer! It is important to remember that kids often have trouble winding down and settling into summer. There is often a transition period. Many kids are scheduled from the moment they wake up to the moment they hit their pillow. Structure, although sometimes resisted, provides the boundaries by which they move through their days and defines their actions hour by hour. When this structure is removed, many children are at a loss of what to do.

Part of the process of settling into summer is allowing some transition time. Transition time can probably be avoided, or not needed, if your child goes from the schedule of school to the schedule of summer camp. For those who children who don’t, you may have to provide them with ideas to partially structure their day while they learn to unwind and settle into a less scheduled day.

Summer break is an opportunity for so many different experiences – from creating and building, doing art, going on hikes, reading, exploring new places, taking classes, day and overnight camp, family adventures, and more. While it is our job as parents to plan for your child’s summer, it is also important to include them in the process. After all it is their summer. You might be surprised to learn what they have in mind.

In addition to all the activities, some of which are mentioned above, you may want to think about what life skills you want to focus on or allow to develop. You may want your child to have a new experience, take some fun enrichment classes, play in a sports summer league, do some tutoring, or have a summer of unstructured time for creating and relaxing. This is purely a personal choice for each family.

In most cases, you will find that your child will settle into summer and find their own grove. You will also find that you will settle into summer, too! Enjoy it all because soon it will be back to school!

This piece first appeared in the Diablo Gazette.