Monday, June 6, 2011

Summer Scheduling: Keeping the Balance!

Keeping the Balance!

Summer schedules are usually full of fun exciting outings, activities and events. I confess I love the variety that comes with the spring/summer season, but I also believe that keeping an eye on balance is a good idea. Just like the school year it can be easy to overload the schedule and overwhelm the children . . . not to mention overloading yourself. So when making plans remember that downtime to just hang out and really play is important. Spending time outdoors in the early morning before the heat and humidity hit is a great way to start the day. Depending on the age, stage and temperament of the children you'll want to consider how often you plan an outing or special event away from home. In my experience it's fun to have several at home activities that are special events unto themselves, sprinkle in some playdates with school friends to add variety, a fun outing and you have a balanced approach to the summer schedule.

Here's a sample of what I mean:

Day 1
    AM outdoor play in the yard: swings, sandbox, tubs of water, mini-soccer game, tag, obstacle course, etc.
    Provide plenty of opportunities for fluids, rest and shade during outdoor play
    Lunch - picnic on the deck under the umbrella
    Rest time - naps for those that nap and quiet activities for others, our rest times started with reading books
    Afternoon snack followed by a summer craft or art time.
Day 2
    Morning playdate with school friends - I liked to host playdates and provide some structured activities for the children that needed it or general parameters for those that didn't, but we always tried to include outdoor time.
    Lunch with friends before they head home
    Rest routine as above - often after playdates I found those that usually don't nap fell asleep for a short time
    Afternoon snack
    Water play / Sidewalk chalk / Walk around the neighborhood
Day 3
     Pack lunch and head out to local park, zoo or museum.
     Picnic lunch
     Home as close to regular rest time as possible
     Afternoon snack
     Activity to follow up on our morning outing - if we went to the zoo we might continue to enjoy animal fun with books, magazines, painting, drawing, dough sculptures, etc.
Day 4
     Outdoor play in the morning
     Library Visit
     Lunch out - this was a day for enjoying either another fun picnic lunch or lunch out at one of our favorite spots. We didn't go to the same place too often so going out to eat was a treat not an expectation. They were often excited about another picnic day.
     Home for rest and book time
     Snack time
     Bug Hunt - fun activity around the yard or neighborhood; we'd observe, record and draw the bugs we met along the way. Equipped with hats, sunscreen and plenty of water we had many fun afternoons hunting.
Day 5
     Beach Day - after breakfast we'd pack our things for a day at the beach. This often included our rest time. We'd have blankets/towels, umbrella for shade, plenty of sunscreen, all the fun equipment for water/sand play, snacks / lunch, etc. Sometimes we'd head to the beach through lunch and then home for rest time.
Basically the week would include: one day with a playdate, one day with a special outing, a beach or water day, two or three days with a special activity such as art, craft, science, cooking, etc. Each day we'd try to maintain the routine of meals, rest time and snack time - even if we were out of the house. Freeplay, reading, games, music, drama, conversation and imagination are part of each day. Younger children may need more planned structure in their day while older children need guidance and opportunities to make choices. As the children were older school agers there would be camps and classes included in the mix. Providing enough downtime for each child is important to enjoying a fun and balanced summer!

Need some tips about where to go and what to do? The links below will bring you to websites that have lists  plus links to more information on family and child friendly activities or events.

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