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There are so many family and kid-friendly activities to tackle over the course of the summer, from outdoor movie screenings to hikes in the woods. At the same time, there are plenty of educational activities that children are expected to complete to stay on grade level and prepare for the year ahead. Balancing the want for popsicles and the need to review multiplication tables isn’t easy, but it’s essential to allow your kids to enjoy the summer instead of just enduring it.

Create a Summer Game Plan…

Kids need the structure that a school day can provide, whether or not they want to admit it. Having an expected routine for the day can help your child balance summer fun and summer learning. Not sure where to start? Plan a morning routine for your child that he or she can follow every day. What chores should be done before lunchtime? What should be done before breakfast? If you and the other adults in the house go to work for the day and your child goes to daycare, day camp or has a babysitter, mornings are a particularly important time to connect with your children and get the day started on a good foot.

Also included in the summer game plan should be some self-directed goals that your children can choose. There aren’t many times over the course of a year that children have enough free time to pick a goal (school-related or for fun) and work through it. Making a summer bucket list is a fun way to let your kids choose some goals, come up with plans for accomplishing them and check the goals off over the course of the summer.

…But Don’t Follow It Too Closely!

While a summer game plan is important to ensure that summer isn’t wasted sitting on the couch eating Cocoa Puffs, you should allow time for spontaneity as well. Unstructured play time is essential for cultivating your child’s imagination. Spending some time playing in the mud in the backyard or running through the sprinklers is part of what summer should be.

Also, remember that you can plan a certain degree of spontaneity into your summer schedule. Keep one day a week free from plans or choose a weeknight for a family fun night every week. Allow your children to choose (within reason) what you’ll be doing or where you’ll be going. This lets you savor the fun summer moments that pop up without warning, while still keeping weeks structured and full of meaningful activities.

Help for Summer and Beyond 

If you’re struggling to keep it together this summer, you aren’t alone. Reach out to CBT Baltimore at 443-470-9815. We would love to help.