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Add Structure to Your Kids' Summer Schedule

Break Those Long, Hot Days Down to Short, Enjoyable Activities


Do you your kids tend to watch TV and eat junk food all day during the summer? Create a routine around their summer schedule with these tips:

1. Set a Time For Learning

Several kids enjoy a free summer reading club at the library.
Photo © Ekaterina Monakhova, 2009

If your kids received home learning packets from their school, or if you've picked out a particular workbook you'd like them to complete, set a regular block of time aside each day when they can work toward completing this project. In addition, plan to explore various topics your kids have shown an interest in. Summer is a great time to tap into their natural curiosity!

2. Set a Time for Reading Every Day

Photo © Glenda Powers

This is something that you can do whether your kids spend their days with you or another caregiver. After lunch is a great time to schedule a regular, daily, reading siesta. If your kids are young, read a story out loud to them at this time. Older children can use this time to read on their own. If you can, try to model the importance of reading by picking up a book for yourself at the same time.

3. Limit Your Kids' Screen Time

A bored little boy eats while he watches TV.
Photo © Brian Toro, 2007

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children ages two and older watch no more than two hours of total screen time per day. In order to meet those guidelines, most families have to make a concentrated effort to turn off the TV and limit computer and video games. Talk with your kids about the amount of time that you think is reasonable, and be firm about maintaining those limits.

4. Schedule Chores

A girl washing dishes
Photo © Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
Make a list of age-appropriate chores for your kids to do each day during the summer. Combine simple everyday tasks, like making their beds and emptying the dishwasher, with larger, long-term projects like cleaning out their closets. For the bigger jobs, show them how to break the task down into smaller 20-minute chunks.

5. Schedule Your Kids' Snacks

A young girl eats an ice cream cone.
Photo © Jani Bryson, 2008
Of course meals are eaten around a basic schedule, but what about snacks? Personally, I feel like a short-order cook when my kids ask me for snack after snack throughout the day. One way around that issue is to establish two different "Snack Times" in your home. At our house, snacks are served at 10:00 am and 3:00 pm. This way, I don't find myself going back into the kitchen six to seven times (before lunch!) to fill another request. My kids know, too, that they can have apples or carrots any time of the day - and they can get them themselves!

6. Schedule Some Regular, Fun Activities

A little girl looks through a magnifying glass during a nature walk.
Image © Mother Image / Getty Images

Sit down with your kids and make a list of all the places you'd like to go this summer and the things you'd like to do. Then make an effort to systematically go through the list, choosing one or two activities per week. In addition, consider signing up for our Ten Weeks of Fun Summer Activities E-course to receive a new idea in your E-mail each week, along with corresponding children's books, crafts, and recipes.

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