Navigating Your Child’s Summer Vacation
Tips For Keeping Them Occupied And Safe
by Laura Pearson
Today’s teens and tweens typically cannot wait for the school year to end and for summertime to begin, and there are plenty of fun activities they can embrace to stay active and busy. At the same time, all of that free time can be a concern for parents who want to keep their kids safe and away from risky situations. What are some of the best ways for kids to spend their summers in a positive way?
It can take some digging to find structured activities for older kids
Once kids get a bit older, it can be tricky to figure out how to keep them busy throughout the summer. For some kids, connecting with friends in an unstructured way works, but many parents want to find more structured plans for their tweens and teens. However, many communities have summer camps available that have programs targeted to these age ranges, and local YMCA facilities or nature centers can be a great place to start.
For kids who might be at an age where an internship is on the radar, plan ahead and start the search earlier than you think is necessary. Great Schools notes that registration for many of these opportunities starts as early as January or February, and that can be the case for camps and other summertime activities, as well.
Additionally, depending on your child’s age, they may be able to pick up some full- or part-time work that will keep them occupied and earn them a little bit of spending money for the summer months. Babysitting or nannying, dog walking, or mowing lawns are all great options, and still give parents the flexibility to plan family outings or trips during the break. If working isn’t an option, consider volunteer possibilities, as well.
Factor in your child’s passions and interests when considering options
When you are working with your child to determine summer plans, consider their interests, and see what you can find that aligns with their passions. A library or bookstore may have some options for dedicated readers, while a pet rescue might be able to use some help from animal lovers. There are often sports camps targeted to different specialties, and working at a local pool might be an option too. It never hurts to check with your child’s teacher or others at school to see what possibilities they might be aware of, as well.
Summertime is a great time for kids to try new activities and have fun, but when school is out, many tweens and teens end up with too much time on their hands, and this can lead to risky behavior choices. In addition, if your child owns a smartphone, that can add an extra layer of concern to the mix of things. Teen Safe suggests that you set strict limits on your child’s daily tech usage during the summertime, as it is easy during this time of year to spend hours on devices and get addicted. Ultimately, your goal is to ensure that they strike a balance between technology or media and real-life interaction and experiences.
Communicate with your tween or teen and lay out clear expectations
No matter how much you trust your child, keep the lines of communication open as they age and set them up for success when it comes to managing peer relationships and access to technology. Parent Map points out that this time of year is a prime time for issues with drug or alcohol experimentation with this age group, and car accidents also spike during the summer.
How can you help your child stay out of these risky situations? Stay in contact with your teen or tween even when they are out and about, and make sure that they know they can count on you to help if they end up in a difficult situation. Talk with your child about the risks of drugs, alcohol, and other risky behaviors, and help them form strategies for resisting peer pressure.
Make sure that your expectations for your kids are clearly laid out, and remember that you want to work with your child to create a fun and productive summer for them. As Your Teen points out, compromise is important when planning out this time, and a bit of resistance from your teen is probably to be expected if you feel you have to say “no” to some of their proposed plans.
The summer season can be a great time for kids to have fun, stay active, and make memories, but it can be a challenging time for parents to manage. Start your planning early when it comes to structuring activity for the summertime and work with your child to ensure they will make safe choices so they will stay on the right track.
[Image via Pixabay]