Summer is here and kids and teens around the neighborhood are excited and ready for the freedom of summer. I don’t blame them—they deserve it!
As everyone adjusts to the end of the school year, ideas of relaxation and fun reign supreme. Summer vacations, new activities, and lounging on the couch are as common as the heat.
When the free time settles in, though, it quickly becomes clear that the kids need something to do. Keeping everyone active and busy will leave them better fulfilled at the end of their summer.
The question is this: how do you do it?
Don’t worry, you’re not the only parent scratching your head as you try to figure out what to plan for your kids and teens this summer. You’re likely trying to work these activities in between your own busy schedule, not to mention the schedules of all the families of your kids’ friends.
We get it!
The best way to make a doable schedule happen is by making a plan. Come up with ideas that work for you and your kids, then take action toward implementing them.
Should you schedule your summer?
Teachers everywhere will tell you that kids thrive on schedules. Consider schools, daycares, and summer camps. At each of these places you’ll find a set routine in place. Knowing what to expect and when gives kids a sense of security. This information is even backed up by research.
Your personal summer schedule doesn’t need to be rigorous, but having general guidelines in place can be a great place to start when it comes to keeping your kids on track.
Do they need to take the trash out on Tuesdays? Do the dishes every evening by 7? Meet Grandma at the grocery store every Friday?
Put a few words on paper regarding which days need which activities. Write down these schedule points and post them where kids and teens can see and know what’s happening.
This will benefit you as a parent, as well. You won’t feel as hurried, and you won’t worry quite as much about getting everything done.
Again, it’s no secret that kids, especially younger kids, benefit from having intentional routines in place. Schools, enrichment activities, and virtual summer camps alike implement structure so that kids know what to expect and can easily transition between activities.
Benefits of solid daily routines include increased independence, cognitive development, and feelings of safety and security for kids. For adults, great routines can lighten the load of parenting and help ensure more quality time and less stress.
If you’re wondering what kinds of activities and routines to put in place, don’t fear. We have more pointers ahead!
How to Create a Summer Schedule
Benefits aside, no one likes to feel overbooked; these routines don’t need to be scheduled down to the minute and can change as needed. Parents will also want to consider factors like their kids’ age, personal preferences, and interests as they work on building routines that are the right fit.
With that in mind, check out these ideas for building summer routines that are a recipe for a successful, enriching, fantastic summer.
Transition from school routines gradually.
Experts agree - and this will be a no-brainer to parents - that gradual change sets kids up for success when adjusting to something new; rapid, dramatic change does not.
This school year is always a tall order for millions of students, change-wise, and it’s particularly important in light of that to implement new routines over the course of at least a week or two.
It’s also a great idea to involve kids, especially middle school-aged kids and teens, in designing and anticipating what the summer months will look like. Their input will be valuable, and having a family conversation will help them mentally prepare for summer. (More on this below!)
Anticipate times throughout the day that could use structure.
These are daily staples like wake up, meals, chores, activities, and winding down before bedtime. When it comes to implementing a summer routine, they make great starting points.
Once you determine an initial outline, decide on how you will post, communicate, and reinforce the summer routines. It could be a daily chart on the refrigerator, weekly outline in the family room, or a casual conversation over breakfast every morning—whatever works best for your family.
That way, you won’t feel like you need to start from scratch every day, and kids will become more and more independent in navigating the routines successfully.
Ask your kids what they want to do.
Have a chat with your kids. What interests them? What is doable for your family? There might be time restraints to consider, or there could be budget issues that prevent any given activity, but a little creativity can go a long way.
Consider your own child’s temperament and abilities, too. Are they interested in martial arts? Dance? Nature? Do they like reading, art, or animals?
If your teen loves animals, consider getting them a volunteer gig at the animal shelter. If your little one likes reading, sign them up for the summer reading program at the local library. If they want to spend time with their friends, you could set up play dates or weekend activities at the local skate rink.
Letting your kids have a say in at least a portion of their schedule can help make sure your endeavor is successful. Your kids will feel heard, and they’ll be more excited to participate.
Sprinkle in activities you know kids will love
Now is a great time to get kids started on a passion project of their choice, and one that probably lies outside the realm of academics.
For instance, if you student dreams of Roblox, there are a number of coding classes for kids that could be great options. That said, if my parents told me I had the entire summer to do a marketing project, I would have been thrilled, so of course it’s possible they’d love to spend more time on their favorite school subject, but help them find a creative twist!
This could be an outside of the box STEM activity, enhancing their love of art with a digital portfolio, or exploring the world of robotics with the help of an expert mentor.
Encourage kids to think about what they’d like to do, and while a summer of nonstop video games or sports might not be in the cards (or their best interest), ensuring to incorporate kids’ preferences will help them look forward to the new routine and buy into your suggestions and needs.
Keep in mind what your kids need.
Do your kids have algebra coming up in the fall? Have they finished Kindergarten and are going into the first grade? Are they ready to learn to swim?
Consider the stage of life they’re in and make a spot in your routine to accommodate their current and upcoming needs. Kids in elementary school could benefit from a summer nature camp or a virtual learning experience. Maybe you can sign them up for swim lessons.
Kids going into higher math might appreciate a summer tutoring program. Or maybe your teen wants to earn extra money. Can they babysit neighbor kids, cut someone’s yard, or get a summer job at the local burger joint? These types of activities are great for a kid’s workplace development, and they can also help build self-esteem as your teen earns their own wages
Not only will these activities give your kids a sense of routine, but they’ll also keep them busy learning. Along with that, they’ll be getting social interaction, which we can all agree is vital to their development.
Where do YOU need the most help?
You might be feeling a bit lost, still. If so, consider this. Which parts of the day feel the most burdensome to you?
Are evenings the worst? Or maybe mornings are hectic, leaving everyone angry and frustrated for the day. Maybe your teens want to sleep until 3PM then stay up all night, or maybe your afternoons are lulling?
When you pinpoint these problem areas, focus on activities that can fill those spaces. Can your child join a club that meets during the problematic time of day? By scheduling something fun and constructive during the times that are normally an issue you can cut down on stress.
Make a summer bucket list
Surprises and special events should never be completely steamrolled by a routine, no matter how well it works on a daily basis!
Shake things up by making a “bucket list” as a family. It could include a surprise trip to kids’ favorite ice cream place, a virtual field trip to an inspiring place, an at-home escape room challenge, or perhaps a theme night of kids’ design.
Get everyone’s input, and post your bucket list proudly in a fun, festive manner. An activity jar or chart could double as an art project, or perhaps it lives in a digital space that can be paired with photos as you go. That way, this summer can be a memorable one, even if it is a little different.
Embrace unstructured, solo time.
It can be tempting to ensure every minute of every day is spent productively, but that’s just not realistic for kids and adults alike. It’s OK to have time throughout the day with no set agenda so everyone can enjoy some downtime.
In fact, it’s necessary.
Kids don’t need to be constantly entertained, and it’s important to give them breathing room in which they can choose their own adventure while giving you a break.
By planning unstructured time (I know, that can sound like an oxymoron, but bear with me here), you won’t become exhausted by schedules. Summer is meant to be time to decompress anyway, right? Do your family a favor and make sure to treat this time with equal importance as all the other engaging, enriching activities you’ve got in mind.
Don’t forget to relax!
In the end, it’s still summer—and you need that unstructured solo time, too. Make sure your kids have plenty of time to explore, get bored, and find their own creative fixes.
Let your teens sleep a bit longer, spread their wings a bit wider, and meet some new people. Encourage your little ones to get dirty and sweaty.
While routines are healthy for us all, equally healthy is the ability to let down our hair (so to speak). Giving your kids a good mix of scheduled time and relaxation will give them the best shot at ending the summer satisfied and ready to jump back into the school year next fall.
Given all of that, what might a summer schedule for your teen or tween look like? Knowing that each and every one of our kids is different, here is a general example to get you started.
- Wake up at 7:00 AM
- Personal hygiene routine (shower, brush teeth, etc.)
- Eat a healthy breakfast
- Complete assigned chores or household tasks
- Spend 30 minutes reading or engaging in a creative activity
9:00 AM - 12:00 PM:
- Attend summer classes or workshops (e.g., art, music, coding)
- Engage in physical activities (e.g., swimming, cycling, yoga)
- Volunteer work or community service
- Explore outdoor activities (e.g., hiking, nature walks, sports)
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM:
- Lunchtime (healthy and balanced meal)
- Pursue personal interests and hobbies
- Take part in structured activities (e.g., photography, cooking)
- Participate in a summer camp or specialized program
- Explore cultural activities (e.g., museum visits, theater)
- Spend time with friends (e.g., go to the movies, have a picnic)
4:00 PM - 6:00 PM:
- Relaxation time (free time for personal activities)
- Engage in creative pursuits (e.g., writing, drawing)
- Family dinner at 6:30 PM (spend time with family)
- Engage in a physical activity (e.g., walk, bike ride)
- Participate in a summer sports league or club
- Attend community events or social gatherings
- Pursue personal development activities (e.g., online courses, reading)
8:00 PM - 10:00 PM:
- Wind down and relax before bedtime
- Enjoy leisure activities (e.g., watching a movie, playing games)
- Engage in self-care routines (e.g., journaling, mindfulness)
- Prepare for the next day (organize, set goals, plan activities)
- Bedtime at 10:00 PM (adjust based on individual needs)
Remember, this schedule is just a guideline and can be customized to fit the teenager's specific interests, family commitments, and availability of activities in their area. It's essential to find a balance between structured activities, personal interests, relaxation, and quality time with family and friends.
Need a hand in planning your child’s summer?
Summer fun is our specialty at iD Tech! We’re excited to be offering coding camps around the country, in addition to Virtual Tech Camps and Online Private Lessons—courtesy of our team of Tech Rockstar instructors.
We’re here to help parents make summer awesome for their kids, and we can’t wait to create more memories like these testimonials from these VTC families:
“I loved every second of this camp. My instructor did a perfect job of making sure we were always having fun on top of what we were learning. I am TOTALLY inspired to keep learning and coding!” Nicholas M., Student, Virtual Tech Camps
“The Instructor was very engaging and took time to answer questions. She spent time working with each child and was very patient. Her enthusiasm for the topic was helpful and Michael has been spending time working on his stories/drawing this entire weekend. He is so excited about learning more about this area.” -Wendy K., Parent, Virtual Tech Camps
(Read more iD Tech reviews.)