Due to the coronavirus pandemic, parents all over the country somehow managed to homeschool their children these last few months, and many were hoping for some relief over the summer. Unfortunately, many summer camps have already cancelled their programs, and families now face a new challenge—figuring out what to do with their kids over the summer.
Erika Coles, clinical director at the FIU Center for Children and Families, shares some tips on how parents can survive the summer with their kids while staying home.
1. Maintain a routine.
When kids don’t have a routine they can follow, they tend to misbehave more and have more anxiety. For the summer, involve your kids in the process of creating their schedule for the day. It will make them feel empowered, and they will more likely follow the schedule, since they helped to create it. Find some fun activities they can do throughout the day and have them choose which ones they want to do. While the schedule for the day doesn’t have to be jam-packed with activities, make sure that bedtimes and mealtimes are as consistent as possible.
2. Reward positive behavior.
Kids need and crave attention. Reward your child with positive praise when you catch them being good by saying things like, “I am so proud of you for cleaning up your room all by yourself.” You should also leverage everyday things like screen time as a reward or give them a small prize for their positive behavior to continue to motivate them.
3. Limit screen time.
All kids have been exposed to significantly more screen time since being in quarantine. Make sure you plan some fun outdoor activities they can do such as bike riding and soccer, and include some creative activities like family game nights, painting, or working on a complex puzzle or Lego set.
4. Stay connected.
Take the time to continue to stay connected with others (both your children with their friends and you with other parents, family and friends). You can schedule virtual play dates or do a drive-by visit to friends and family.
5. Incorporate academic time.
Help prevent summer learning loss by infusing some fun academic activities like reading and online activities from local museums.
6. Get help.
The last few months have been a whirlwind for most families, and everyone has been doing their best to stay afloat. Most families haven’t processed how the coronavirus has impacted their mental health and will continue to do so. Take some time over the summer to check in on your mental health and seek support for you and your child if you need it. It could be anything from helping you to manage your child’s behavior at home to helping manage your child’s worries and fears.
The FIU Center for Children and Families offers a wide range of evidence-based telehealth services for families in need during this time. Visit their website to obtain more information about their services and free resources for families during this time.