Preparing Your Child (And Yourself!) For A Successful Summer Break
Summer is exciting and means the start of sunshine and lazy days, but more and more is also seen as a time for parents to invest in their children's physical, emotional, social and intellectual development. Unless you are a stay at home parent with a healthy budget, or have a child in an all year round day care center, you’re going to find yourself with a summer break averaging twelve weeks to fill with activities, and supervision, so it’s crucial to start planning as early as possible to get the most out of this time. Working this plan out effectively can be a tad overwhelming so we put together some simple strategies to help you prepare your students (and yourself) for the summer break!
Plan As Early As Possible
Some parents start planning for summer break about three months in advance, giving them plenty of time to research summer camps, activities and schedule vacation time with work and their families. To start the process of planning, simply grab your calendar or print out blank calendar pages with enough room for scribbles and start marking out certain events such as vacation dates, family holidays, etc. and also dates you will definitely need childcare for because of work commitments. From here, you can start to list out your options, activities and plans for your children this summer.
What are your goals this summer? Maybe you’ve been super busy all year around and now you can take advantage of this vacation to spend quality time with your family? Or your child’s end of year report has stated that he struggles in a certain subject and needs some extra help over the summer from you, a tutor or even a specialised summer camp. Write them down and plan your activities accordingly.
Work Out A Budget
First of all, take a look at your finances, work schedule and your child’s needs. How much money can you put aside for these twelve weeks? Can you make up a flexible schedule with your work, ask for additional leave or work from home during the summer break? How will this affect your monthly paycheck? Ideally, you would be saving all year round to cover these extra costs so your monthly expenditures aren’t taking a huge knock. Take into account any vacations and holidays you have booked and try to pay them off well in advance and any other events that are happening that you need to budget for.
"Those summer months, even though it is only a few weeks in the grand scheme of things, can make a significant difference in how much your cost of care is for the year," says Kerri Swope, Vice President of care.com, "So it's worth taking a step back and doing some homework to figure out what your budget is and the best balance for your family."
Playing vs. Learning
As soon as the school bell rings to commence the start of the summer break, research completed by experts in ‘Summer Learning Loss’ found that student achievement levels can slightly decline over the course of summer vacation and the gap of reading levels between working class and middle class students may grows wider.
David Quinn & Morgan Polikoff, from University of Southern California, believe that learning must continue throughout the 12 week duration of academic downtime. The obvious but not so cost effective option would be to send your child to summer camp. However, one of their recommendations for schools and families on low income is to establish a home based program where schools equip parents with books, activities and information about summer learning events to tackle this concern.
However, Martin Franklin, PhD, a professor of Clinical Psychology states that some parents are overdoing it and not allowing kids to be kids anymore due to their own issues and anxieties around ‘Summer Learning Loss’. He believes that spending time together as a family, relaxing and making memories should be more important. Instead, he encourages parents to read with their children, visit educational places such as museums and teaching them essential life skills.
At Sprout School Supplies, we believe that learning and playing are equally important and finding a healthy balance of both can ensure your children has a productive but fun summer. So what are your options?
Camps continue to be a big part of the annual summer plan for families as children pack up for camp and say goodbye to their parents for a week or two. But summer camps nowadays are moving away from the traditional sleepaways and are becoming more specific, flexible and are carrying different ‘themes.’ Of course, it’s important to consult your budget before researching your options. For example, a few weeks in a sleepaway camp may be out of your price range but a week at a day camp is more fitting than the overnight option. Consider your child’s summer break needs. Are they ready for the ultimate summer camp experience in a sleepaway for a few weeks? Do you have a budding artist or a rock star in the making? Maybe they would be more suited for an art camp or a music camp?
Regardless of your needs, budget and preferences, summer camp spaces can fill up pretty quickly. Planning in advance not only increases your chance of securing a spot on your chosen camp but it also allows you to ask those all important questions to ensure your child will be safe and happy at camp. Many camps schedule open days throughout the year to allow parents to visit the camp, try out the activities, ask questions and get to know the camp counsellors before making their decision.
For an ultimate list of the different summer camps you can choose for your child, this extensive list of summer camps can give you multiple options and a wide range of academic camps, adventure camps, art camps, family camps, general camps, military camps, religious camps, scout camps, sports camps, service organization camps, special needs camps, technology camps and theme camps. Once you have an idea of what type of camp is right for you and your child, use a summer camp search engine to help you find that perfect camp.
Alternative Child Care Options
There may be gaps in your calendar where you are unable to supervise your children and they aren’t attending summer camp. Think about hiring a nanny or babysitter for these times and search sites such as care.com, UrbanSitter and Sittercity for quality, trustworthy child care in your local community. Also try talking to other local parents and neighbors for advice and suggestions. You might even find families in a situation similar to yours that you can work with, by either sharing a nanny or babysitter who is willing to take on multiple kids at once or by helping each other out with the childcare.
Schedule in Quality Family Time
With or without summer camps on your summer break plan, spending quality time as a family is essential. But, it can still be a costly business. For twelve weeks of summer vacation, parents will spend an average of $7,333.80 on activities, day trips and making sure their children have an amazing, memorable summer. If you’re on a low budget, it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to keep the kids entertained and happy over summer. Family trips to the museum, park or a weekend of camping doesn’t have to break the bank and can still be fun and memorable for the whole family. Grab your local newspaper or look on social media for local events and activities that are free for children or at a reduced cost and pencil them into your calendar and take a look at 100 Fun Summer Ideas for Kids and Parents or 25 places in the US to visit with the kids under $20 for creative and unique ideas and suggestions to keep everyone happy.
Make It Your Summer
How do you plan to spend your summer break? Feel free to tell us about your ideas for successful time off in the comments section on Facebook!
Whatever your summer plans, we at Sprout School Supplies wish you a happy, fun, active, and - with a little extra planning - low stress one!