Summer break is exciting for kids but always mildly stressful for me as a working parent with a flexible schedule. I worry that I cannot manage the schedule change and the kids will spend too much time doing nothing. I worry that by the time we start making the most of it, the summer break will be over.

Growing up, the best memories I have from my summers are from when I did something completely new and different, immersed myself in an activity, learned something completely new and spent quality time with friends and family.

First off, I sat down and forced myself to articulate the “good” things about summer break, and then came up with plenty of ways to make the most of summer break with just a few small changes.

Why A Break From School is Great

Photo by f-ilia

1. Relaxed mornings

The kids don’t have to rush off to school at a set time everyday, and this means that we can take it a bit easy in the mornings.

2. More time together

No school means more time with the kids every day.More time makes it possible to actually accomplish  some longer-terms goals – especially goals involving reading, music, and art. Summer is a great time to give kids a head start on new skills.

3. Full days off

With no school, we have a whole day off to do something fun.

Ways to Make The Most Of School Break

Photo by alexragone

1. Morning reading

We always read before going to bed. With a four-and-a-half year-old who is quite obsessed with reading, I can never get enough one-on-one time with her and a book. So we added a wake up reading routine.

This is a short, simple routine where she reads two little books of her choice as soon as we wake up, right in bed. It is incredible how much my daughter looks forward to it every morning. Needless to say, she is doing really well at reading daily.

2. Volunteering

Starting to volunteer always takes some effort.  Summer is a good time to find regular volunteering opportunities close to home. With the kids on a flexible schedule, you are able to explore, see what they enjoy, and where they want to contribute.

This is the first year that we will start volunteering at the Humane Society. I look forward to taking a few afternoons off and helping there with my kids. It will be the first time we will make volunteering a “regular” thing in our household, and I am excited about that.

3. Learn a new language

It’s important for kids (and us!) to learn another language. My kids are growing up multilingual, and summer is a great time to focus a bit more on language learning. Several times a day, we pretend there are aliens and we need to speak in a foreign language.

4. Invent celebrations

Designate a few days in the summer for special, made-up celebrations. This idea came from my three-year-old when she asked me why we had no “Big Sister Day” and “Little Sister Day” celebrations, even though we had Mother’s and Father’s Day. All we need to have fun is an excuse, so why not create a great one?

Photo by Juhansonin

5. Start a journal

Give the kids their own special journal, and keep one for yourself as well. Spend five to ten minutes daily writing in the journal. I ask my girls to write about what they loved most about their day, and they’ll write a few words. I also doodle and write a few lines in my own journal everyday. Writing is a great experience to share, and it’s fun over time to read back at what they wrote.

6. Grow a garden

Growing a garden is perhaps one of the best ways to teach kids responsibility. This year, we are designating a small patch of the garden to each of our kids, and making it their responsibility to take care of that patch. They will plant flowers, water, and weed their areas.

7. Explore art and music

Summer is a great time to explore, research, and expose kids to music and dance. Last year, we watched a number of live dance and music shows at community festivals. We also spent time researching various forms of dance and musical instruments. This piqued my four-year-old daughter’s interest in taking lessons once school started again. I plan to do the same with art this summer.

My plan is to focus on three to four of these ideas that my kids and I enjoy the most. Other than that, we plan to play a lot and snuggle multiple times a day.

What are you planning to accomplish with your kids this summer?