Children need structure during the summer so they don't get bored, frustrated or lazy. As a parent, you can create a daily summer schedule that helps them occupy their time in ways that are physically, mentally and socially beneficial. Schedule morning, midday and evening routines and post the schedule in a spot where your children can see it, suggests parental support adviser, Erin Schlicher, at EmpoweringParents.com. You can decide whether you want to follow the routine every day or leave the weekends open for more flexible scheduling.
Breakfast and Chores
Start your children's daily summer schedule with a healthy breakfast followed by chores. Involve your children in making breakfast and allow them to experiment with cooking. For example, you might help them make happy-face pancakes or green eggs and ham. Include morning chores on the schedule, such as getting dressed, making beds, cleaning rooms, cleaning up breakfast dishes and helping with housework or yard work. Create a "to-do" chart, so your kids can mark off tasks as they complete them.
Reading and Math Practice
Encourage your kids to read and review math concepts after breakfast. Children often have educational setbacks during the summer because they don't practice academic skills, such as math and reading. If possible, talk to your children's upcoming teachers about the curriculum, so they can practice those concepts during the summer, recommends Harris Cooper, chairperson of the psychology and neuroscience department at Duke University, in Parenting.com. Your children don't have to spend huge amounts of time reading and reviewing academic material -- 30 minutes to one hour at a time is often sufficient -- but discuss your children's specific academic needs with their teachers.
Crafts, Music and Hobbies
Include crafts, music and hobbies as pre-lunch activities on the schedule. At the beginning of summer, talk to your kids about new hobbies or special interests they want to pursue. Take them to the library once a week to get books and educational materials on their hobbies and interests. Organize crafts and projects for kids under 10, but let middle- and high-school students choose their own activities. Allow your kids to use a home computer to do research, but remind them that it's not time to social network or surf the Internet. Encourage them to work together on projects once or twice a week, such as completing jigsaw puzzles, creating wall art for their rooms or playing music together.
Lunch and Recreation
Include lunchtime on your kids' summer schedule and do something special once or twice a week, such as going on a picnic or eating out. After lunch, transition to activities outside the house, such as running errands, going to the library, participating in recreational activities, swimming or visiting local attractions. You might even take a day trip to a zoo or a museum once a week. Discuss activity schedules with your kids, so each child gets an opportunity to do something special. For example, you might go to a park with basketball courts every Monday for your teenage son and to the mall on Wednesdays for your preteen daughter.
Add free time to the afternoon schedule. Free time gives kids the opportunity to make decisions about their time, explore personal interests and socialize, suggests licensed social worker Heather Gilmore, at PsychCentral.com. Allow your kids to hang out with friends, invite friends over and use age-appropriate social networking avenues, such as texting or Facebook. Young children might play independently with toys, and older kids might play video games or surf the Internet.
Dinner and Family Time
Involve the whole family in dinner time -- setting the table, cooking and cleaning dishes. Discuss any vacation plans or special events your family plans to attend over the summer and talk about any scheduled activities for the next day. Spend time together after dinner enjoying the outdoors, playing board games or watching TV. Allow teenagers to stay up later than their younger siblings and enjoy the additional free time. Include bedtime routines on the summer schedule for young kids, such as bathing and brushing teeth.