Why do children still need structure in the summer?
While children look forward to the lazy days of summer, the lack of predictability and irregular routines plague kids with anxiety and boredom. These lead to behavior problems at home and a headache for parents.
Summer learning loss is also a huge issue for children during these vacation months. On average, students lose 2 months of reading and mathematics learning over the summer because they are not regularly learning.
The lack of structure during the summer even encourages children to develop unhealthy habits. They often spend more time indoors in front of the TV or computer and consume unhealthy snacks. This sedentary lifestyle has proven to negatively impact kids as they grow, and often leads to higher rates of obesity.
Structure helps your children channel their energy into productive, engaging activities that boost their confidence, limit learning loss, and encourage healthy habits.
How do you incorporate structure into the summer?
1. Enroll your kids in a summer camp program or summer daycare program
Summer camp activities keep children on a schedule that is fun and engaging. When you look for a summer camp or daycare, look for ones that emphasize:
- Clear, balanced schedules.
- Physical activity.
- Educational experiences (classes, field trips, guest speakers, etc.).
- Nutritional snacks.
- FUN (it is still summer, after all).
The Quest Summer Camp is a great mix of structure and spontaneity for campers—each week students look forward to exciting field trips to water parks, NFL stadiums, zoos, and more. All of our camps include the NFL Play 60 and Think Stretch Summer Learning program to keep your children physically and mentally healthy over the summer. You can learn more about our summer camp activities and enroll your camper here.
2. Create a schedule as a family
Whether or not summer camp is in the cards for your kids, it’s important to keep a routine at home. Work together with your children to build a schedule, and post it in a visible location. This way, your kids feel like they have a say in the schedule and they are more likely to follow it. This can also be a fun time to bond with your kids!
3. Keep meal and betimes regular
Even if you can’t keep all their activities during the day straight, regulating their meals and sleep makes the schedule predictable for kids. This reduces anxiety and boosts their daily confidence. Regularly scheduled meals and bedtimes also encourages restful sleep and promotes better dietary choices in the long term.
4. Include a physical activity
Kids need at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Encourage your kids to dance, bike, swim, and more every day this summer. This will encourage healthy habits that ward off future health issues.
Screen time can turn your child into a lethargic zombie on a beautiful, sunny day. Reduce social media, video games, television, and other entertainment screen time to between one to two hours a day. In place of entertainment screen time, encourage educational activities such as read-along books, math games, and shows such as “Sesame Street” that are actually great learning tools for your kids.
6. Don’t forget family time
Summer is the perfect time to bond over family trips, summer camping activities, or even stay-cations. Building in time for little things like a family game night or a dinner spent at the dining table can bring your family closer on a daily basis.
7. Be flexible with the plans
Just because your children need structure, doesn’t mean summertime has to be rigid! Strict schedules can be just as boring for kids. Flexibility keeps your home (almost) stress-free and helps the whole family enjoy the summer schedule.
8. Remember your family needs
Create a schedule that fits your family and is fun to follow! Don’t restrict your children to the same old schedule every week. Be creative, and your kids won’t even notice the scheduled time.