Transitioning from school to summer can be challenging for children, especially those with learning or behavioral challenges. Parents and caregivers play a significant role in providing support and structure during this time to ensure a smooth and enjoyable transition for everyone in the home. The following five tips will help you enhance your approach and navigate the shift from school to summer, minimizing stress and helping your children flourish and thrive during summer break.
- Establish and Maintain a Consistent Routine: Maintaining a consistent schedule for waking up, bathing, eating meals, and bedtime, whether at home or on vacation, is incredibly beneficial. Routines provide stability, reduce anxiety, and build confidence in children, especially those who need extra behavioral and emotional support. Minimizing unexpected changes will help your child feel secure and know what to expect day-to-day. Additionally, honing a happy, healthy routine during summer can set everyone up for success during the following school year.
- Create Engaging Learning Opportunities: While the structure of organized school days may be absent during summer, you can incorporate structured learning experiences at home to maintain a sense of routine. Summer also provides the opportunity to make learning fun! Plan well-thought-out activities that stimulate your child’s mind and promote continuous learning. Remember, you can integrate learning into everyday experiences. Baking can incorporate math, puzzles promote problem-solving skills, and journaling can enhance a child’s writing abilities. Engaging in creative activities can foster self-awareness, self-expression, interpersonal skills, and more!
- Openly Discuss the Schedule: Communication is crucial. Talk with your child about the upcoming changes in schedule in the days and weeks leading up to the end of the school year. Discuss what summer days will look like and how they will feel, including specific activities and the timing of events. If your child is a visual learner, consider creating a wall calendar that shows them the daily schedule. The calendar will provide a visual aid and help them understand and prepare for the transition.
- Maintain a Consistent Behavioral System: If your child follows a behavioral system at school, it would be helpful to discuss it in depth with their teachers and implement the same system at home. Consistency in expectations, as well as rewards encouraging positive behavior, will give structure to summer break. If you have a behavioral system at home, maintain it throughout the transition into and throughout summer to continue enforcing those lessons. Consistency will help your child feel secure and supported.
- Allow for Adjustment Time: Understand that the transition from school to summer may be an adjustment for everyone in the home, including you and your child. Be patient with them and gentle with yourself, allowing everyone time to adapt to the new routine and express concerns as they deem necessary. Offer support and understanding as your child navigates the changes, give opportunities for feedback and open communication, and reassure them that things will get easier as they settle into the summer routine.
Overall, transitioning from school to summer can be challenging. Busy schedules and end-of-school-year stress give way to a more open-ended and unpredictable summer, adding to the difficulties of the transition. However, with the right strategies, you can support your child and make the experience smoother and more enjoyable for everyone involved. By keeping a routine, creating engaging learning opportunities, discussing the schedule, implementing a consistent behavioral system, and allowing for adjustment time, you can help your children flourish and thrive during the summer break. Remember, the key is to provide structure, support, and understanding throughout the transition, allowing your children to embrace the new routine and make the most of their summer vacation. Summer is a time to relax and enjoy time together as you grow in happy, healthy ways as a family.
By Brianna Walker, MS
Arky, B. & Goldstein, C. (2023, January 30). Strategies for a Successful Summer Break: Tips for managing your kids’ downtime to help make it relaxing for everyone. Child Mind Institute. https://childmind.org/article/strategies-for-a-successful-summer-break/
Brain Balance. (N.A.) Surviving the Transition From School to Summer. https://www.brainbalancecenters.com/blog/surviving-the-transition-from-school-to-summer
Franciscan Children’s. (2018, June 28). How to Transition Your Child From School Year to Summer Vacation. https://franciscanchildrens.org/blog/transition-child-school-year-summer-vacation/
The Check-In Project. (2021, August 21). Mental Health Tips for Summer Vacation – The Check-In Project. https://www.thecheckinproject.org/post/mental-health-tips-for-summer-vacation