Do Your Kids Need Structure This Summer?
Summer holidays are here and that means that many children and youth are celebrating the freedom of unstructured days ahead unburdened by the schedules, homework and demands of school. As parents, however, we often observe that by the third week of summer vacation, boredom sets in, and a new kind of stress arises for many of our children: the “what am I going to do?” stress.
Structure provides our children with a sense of safety and security as it minimizes the unknown, thereby, reducing anxiety. Whereas chaotic and unstructured situations create doubt, hesitation and ambiguity that inhibits children’s growth and mental health. Structure also helps commit things to procedural memory, supporting the ability to develop new habits.
So how do we create structure out of our children’s unstructured time?
Supporting your children in maintaining a routine is one of the first steps in structuring their unstructured time. We often feel that summer vacation for our children means that anything goes. Our children quickly lose their routines staying up late and sleeping in and pandemonium results.
So, parents can begin by establishing summer routines. This routine may not look exactly like their routine during the school year, however, having a set bed time and wake up time is a good start.
Completing daily hygiene and chores are also a part of their school routine that you want to maintain. The “jammies all day long, while playing on the game system” does not support a good structured routine for our children.
From established routines, children learn that:
- life runs more smoothly if things are organized and predictable
- a structured environment helps to handle feelings of frustration and disappointment
- there is satisfaction in delayed gratification
…all of which are important skills for later in life.
To help your children structure their summer vacation days, you can help them develop a daily calendar that outlines one set task or activity every afternoon and support them in developing self responsibility by holding them accountable for the choices they make.
Ideas can include: plant a garden, make a kite, re-arrange your bedroom, paint a canvas, tie dye t-shirts, have a dance party, go frog catching, have a paper airplane contest complete with decorating, make popsicles, try a new recipe, make a water relay game and compete with your friends, have a scavenger hunt or make flubber.
- Squeeze about 4 ounces of glue into a glass bowl.
- Mix in 1 1/2 bottles of warm water. …
- Add your food coloring, if desired. …
- Mix 1 teaspoon of Borax into 1/2 cup of water, and slowly add the solution to the glue mixture.
- Stir in the Borax solution until the slime started to come together. …
- Knead the Flubber.
For more additional summer fun activities, check out Pinterest.