How to Make School Breaks Great

familyHoliday breaks are a great time for kids to experience new things, grow in new directions, and have fun with the family.  Have you ever wondered how you could make this your child’s best summer yet?  Read the seven tips below to turn a good break into a great one!

Tip 1: Create a Roadmap 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 playing outside 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 ?  Maybe there is some leeway on weekends or holidays?  Are there certain rules about having friends over?  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: 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 4:  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 year or their 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.

Carrie Silver-Stock, MSW, LCSW, is the founder of Girls With, a site dedicated to empowering teen girls and the author of Secrets Girls Keep: What Girls Hide (& Why) and How to Break the Stress of Silence (HCI).