School is out, finally, hopefully, for everyone, with many delays in the last day of school due to the lots and lots and lots of snow days we had this academic year. I am going to go out on a limb, metaphorically speaking, and assume that I am not the only parent who has a hard time helping children navigate the transition between school days (lots of structure, all the time) and the summer. Mostly this challenge results in a lot of whining, a lot of mess, and lots of yelling on my part. Definitely not the most effective option.
What to do? One option is to keep a highly rigid schedule, by putting children in all day summer camps, for example. There are lots of benefits to children’s summer camps that have been documented, including the ability for lots of physical activity, the opportunity to learn how to navigate social relationships outside of a school setting, and much more. See these links for more information about the benefits of summer camp here: https://www.rockbrookcamp.com/parents/children-camp-great/; here: https://www.idtech.com/blog/benefits-of-summer-camp-infographic/; and here: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/todd-kestin/how-summer-camp-helps-your-child-prepare-for-adulthood_b_5401420.html. Some kids, especially those with ADD/ADHD and other behavioral issues, certainly thrive with that kind of structure and routine.
And then there are kids like my middle child, who would be perfectly happy to wander around all day talking to himself, imagining worlds, and engaging in pretend combat with action figures, stuffed animals, and when nothing else is readily available, two of his own fingers. Those children may do better with less structure and more opportunities for that kind of freedom. Experts say, though, that some kind of structure at home is still really important to help keep kids grounded and knowing what to expect. Check out these links for more information on this important topic: https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/why-your-child-needs-sleep-schedule-throughout-the-summer; here: https://brili.com/blog/2016/5/24/why-you-should-keep-a-routine-in-the-summer; and here: http://pulse.seattlechildrens.org/summer-routines-help-keep-kids-thinking-and-moving-while-schools-out/.
What is our family doing for the summer? Lots of summer camps of various types, mostly because of our work schedules and need for supervision for the children. Some vacation time, although not that much considering that we were on an extended vacation/sabbatical for the past 5 months. Some work travel for me to a variety of conferences and other locations, and hopefully, lots and lots of outdoor swimming time.