This is a time of year where families are saying goodbye to summer and hello to a new school year! It is an exciting time for some, a dreaded time for others, but either way it’s a good idea to have a plan for savoring these last weeks of longer days, hot weather, and relaxed schedules. Here are a few ways to get set for school while still enjoying what’s left of summer time:
Spruce up your Family Schedule
One of the most valued aspects of summer is the flexible, carefree attitude and schedule offered. However, like any time of year, children respond well to consistency and thrive when clear expectations are given. It gives them a sense of comfort and understanding of their surroundings. As the school year approaches, it’s important to implement or re-introduce a family schedule. Create it with your kids so that compromise can be made when possible, and so the structure works for all involved. Creating a clear and followed routine allows parents to stay on track as well! Write down the "map of the day” and have it posted where all can see! Some suggested sections of the day to make sure to include: "morning meetings,” outside time, & reading/academic review.
"Morning Meetings" are often implemented by teachers in the classroom to have each day start on a steady and positive note. Morning meetings are casual and could be done over breakfast to review the day ahead. Some parents may want to include a "have to" and "want to" chart during the meeting in which the parent add "have to-dos" (chores, reading, etc.) and the children get to select some fun activities they would like to include that day. Schedules and routines allow families to balance fun and flexibility with productivity and comfort.
Sharpen your Parenting Skills
With so much additional time together during the summer days, behavior troubles may have themselves. More concentrated time together, mixed with extended hours to fill, coupled with natural irritation can lead to children pushing limits and acting out frustrations negatively. As always, it is very important to handle behavior issues with patience and consistency. A few tips for behavior:
- Start small: Hopefully the problems are not abundant, but as you notice areas for growth address one or two at a time beginning with the most crucial. Tackling everything at once will be frustrating, confusing, and often leads to failure. Have clear expectations of behavior & review them often! When expectations are not met, have age appropriate and related punishments ready.
- Self-care: It is clear that consistency is vital to success when it comes to promoting positive behavior. Often when parents are run down (either physically or emotionally) is when this is hardest, and the most tempting to either ignore the problem behavior or snap with uncharacteristic and unproductive punishment methods. Remember, when you are at your best, you will best be able to set the stage for successful behavior by both your examples and actions with the kids! Do not underestimate the value of self-care.
- Working for a reward: Another method often found in classrooms is that of a reward system. Many children, and adults, respond best to earning rewards for positive actions, as opposed to pilling on punishments for bad choices. Have set out times/behaviors that the kids can earn points, checks, or stickers (whatever they choose) that equate to a reward when the desired amount is reached! Some parents may choose to have "Fun Friday" in which children are awarded for their hard work and positive behavior. Having specific and repeating behaviors that earn "points" as well as a list of pre-approved rewards generally works best! (Parents with younger aged children or children with behavior difficulty should consider having smaller and more frequent reward days or activities).
Enjoy one last Summer Tradition
Every family has its own summertime traditions and values, and summer is a perfect time to enjoy those family traditions or create new ones. Have you tried any of these this summer?
- The Ole' Faithful Lemonade stand (ready-made toy store stands are probably on clearance!)
- Check local libraries for free movie days/reading clubs
- Play with Shaving Cream
- Do a Science Experiment- Try this one for making “Gak”
- Create a Tape optical course! (Maybe even take it a step further and have the kids go on a "mission" to earn their afternoon snack).
Let us hear from you! Leave a comment to share your end of summer routines, tips, or traditions.