Holiday breaks are a great time for kids to experience new things, grow in new directions, and have fun with the family. With spring break and summer vacation just around the corner, have you ever wondered how you could make this your child’s best vacation yet? Read the seven tips below to turn a good break into a great one!
Tip 1: Create a Road Map Together
Find out from your child what their ideal summer would look like. Their immediate response might be something like play video games all day or go to pool, but stay open to their ideas. Including them in this process is important. Hear them out and ask questions that encourage dreaming big. After listening, figure out how to create a plan that works for both of you. For example, maybe the all day of video games isn’t acceptable to you, but you both agree that finding a part-time job and also having time to play games works. Get creative with this and have fun thinking of new things to do together.
Tip 2: Talk About Summer Expectations
Since schedules are often less structured during summer, it’s important for both you and your child to get clear about household expectations for summer. Think about it from different perspectives from what is expected around bed time, friends, school work, activities, household chores, etc… Decide what is most important to you but also try to collaborate some with your son or daughter so they feel part of the process. For example, is there a certain bed time or curfew? Maybe there is some leeway on weekends or holidays? Are there certain rules about having friends in the house? Are there new chores for the summer? Finally, have a discussion about why certain rules are important to you and how they help make things easier or safer on everyone.
Tip 3: Monitor Internet Activities.
Internet safety and teens have received a lot of media attention lately and so many parents still feel their child is immune to any foul play. But, problems surrounding the internet can happen to anyone. Be alert to what your child is doing online. A great way to do this is to Google your child’s name to see what you find. You can also set up a Google alert that will tell you when your child’s name appears on line. To find out more about this important topic, there are many organizations online that discuss specific internet safety tips for parents.
Tip 4: Have a Blast!
Summer is supposed to be fun. Try to think of a few new things you can do as a family or your son or daughter can try on their own. Visit a new park, have a picnic dinner, go somewhere like the City Museum or Botanical Gardens and explore new sites. Ask your child for their input. You might even come up with a new tradition of pancake Saturdays or a unique game night. Have everyone make a list of the top ten fun things they want to do this summer and see if you can do at least five of them.
Tip 5: Be Familiar With Their Friends
Friendships and the social scene are a key part of a teen’s every day life. Friends are usually who your child will look to for support and guidance. They are often one of the biggest influences on decisions they will make. Summer might be a time of making new friends or hanging out with old ones. Whatever the case, make sure you know what’s going in their social life. If there are any drastic changes in their behavior or who they are hanging out with, this could be an indicator of serious change in their social scene for better or worse. Make sure you watch to make sure they are safe.
Tip 6: Make Learning Fun
Summer doesn’t have to be a time where learning stops, but it doesn’t have to be the same format as school either. Talk to your child’s teacher about summer ideas to make learning fun for your child’s learning style. Maybe you all read a book together or share ideas from different ones you are each reading. Other times incorporating family trips, experiences, or various types of outdoor exploration are a great way to integrate important learning skills.
Tip 7: Make a back to school plan
Just as planning for break is important so is taking a little time to plan for the return to school. This is a critical and often overlooked step. About 3-4 weeks before school starts again, start talking to your child about school. This doesn’t have to be an everyday thing, but try to assess their feelings the new year. Are they going to a new school? Is it a transition to High School for the first time? Be sensitive to their anxiety levels. Think about the different ways your child will need to adapt from buying and purchasing supplies to adjusting to different sleep and wake up schedules. This is also a great time to look ahead to the new school year and think about new opportunities or goals to work towards.
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