Creating a fun summer schedule & routine for kids & teens

boy dribbling basketball down park sidewalk

Summer is right around the corner, and kids deserve a well-earned break after this extraordinary school year.

And while rest and relaxation is always something to look forward to, there’s no doubt about it: 2021 marks a second summer that will be different than what’s typical for many families.

Even with vaccine distribution underway, it’s still uncertain when things like outdoor barbecues, travel, and other signature summer activities will be safe to resume. That leaves many parents asking: how can summer still be fun for my child after so many months at home? 

You’re certainly not alone if you’re wondering how to keep kids occupied in a way that’s both enjoyable and manageable for the whole family. 

The past year’s unique circumstances demanded a higher than usual level of creativity (aka time and energy), so what if the reserves are running a little low … right when three months of free time are coming up? 

We hear you!

The key to creating a summer schedule that works for your family and is fun for everyone might lie in building the right daily routine! 

Summer Schedule Ideas

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. 

Of course, 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. Creating a “new normal,”  or should we say “a new, newer, newest” normal to be more accurate in 2021, should not happen overnight. 

This school year posed 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 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. 

Anticipate times throughout the day that could use some 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. 

Need ideas to get started? Here are some great example routines for younger children, and here are starting points for older kids and teens

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.  

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 literature 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.   

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 (for your kids and for you!) 

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. 

Need a hand in planning your child’s summer? 

Summer fun is our specialty at iD Tech! We’re excited to kick off our second fully-online edition of 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.)

A photo of Virginia

Virginia started with iD Tech at the University of Denver in 2015 and has loved every minute since then! A former teacher by trade, she has a master's in education and loves working to embolden the next generation through STEM. Outside the office, you can usually find her reading a good book, struggling on a yoga mat, or exploring the Rocky Mountains.