youth

School is out. The kids are home. Summer is here. Now what?

If your budget doesn’t allow for a family vacation or a fancy kids’ camp, there are still many ways you can keep your children entertained and content at home.

While there needs to be a happy medium between totally unstructured mayhem and an overpacked schedule of “must-do’s,” the key to a happy summer break is putting the time into planning a roster of things to do.

It is vital for everyone’s sanity to stick to a schedule. A lazy summer afternoon sounds great in theory until it turns into a day of sibling squabbles and parents watching the clock waiting for nap or bedtime. Just like in school, kids need structure and a schedule in order to be happy and successful.

The same goes for summer break. If planning an entire summer seems daunting, break it down into days and give each day a theme. Here are some ideas:

• “Make Something Monday” could be a day to focus on crafts or being creative.

• “Take a Trip Tuesday” could center around taking a day trip to a local park or zoo.

• “Water Wednesday” could involve a water activity or visiting the city pool.

• “Thoughtful Thursday” could consist of volunteering at the Humane Society or participating in a community service project.

• “Fun Friday” could be the day to do something from a “summer bucket list” the family has put together.

Making a summer bucket list can be a fun way for the family to sit down together and discuss what each person would like to do over the summer. You can also explore any goals each child may want to achieve.

With summer also comes the unknowns of weather and possible rainy days. Keep a “rainy day jar” where each kid writes an idea on a slip of paper and then pulls one out when they get bored.

Get creative! Make an escape room or a blanket fort in the living room. Look up STEM activities to keep the kids busy or put on a show using parts from favorite books. Allow the kids to make props and costumes.

Perhaps the biggest struggle of any extended break from school can be limiting screen time. The best strategy seems to be incorporating some screen time into the daily schedule without totally taking it away. The goal is to keep kids busy and entertained with other activities so they aren’t asking for more screen time.

Providing an action-packed, educational, and stimulating summer may seem like an intimidating task; however, including the kids when making these decisions can help them feel their opinions are valued. Enjoy this time with your children while they are young and savor each new memory made!

Abby Betz, LSW, is a Youth First Social Worker at Holy Trinity Catholic Schools in Dubois County and Washington Catholic Schools in Daviess County. Youth First, Inc. is a nonprofit dedicated to strengthening youth and families. Youth First provides 78 Master’s level social workers to 107 schools in 13 Indiana counties. Over 60,000 youth and families per year are served by Youth First’s school social work and after school programs that prevent substance abuse, promote healthy behaviors, and maximize student success. To learn more about Youth First, visit youthfirstinc.org or call 812-421-8336.

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