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I work full-time, what am I going to do with my kids over summer break?

Creating a summer schedule can help families manage the transition with planned vacation time as well as some academic activities to prevent the summer slide.

It’s that time of year again – class plays and award ceremonies that signal the end of a school year. The kids are excited and can’t wait for the adventures of summer to begin. However, parents who work often struggle with summer break. Creating a summer schedule can help families manage the transition with planned vacation time as well as some academic activities to prevent the summer slide.

Depending on the child’s age and the family situation, the changes can be large or small. Younger children who attend daycare after school often attend the same day care for the entire day during the summer. If the family has a live-in nanny, the changes may not be too dramatic – just more nanny supervised time. But what about older children? There are many different options for childcare and these are all available during the summer months. There are, of course, pros and cons to every potential solution. Here are a few suggestions.

1. Maintain the Status Quo. If the family already has a full-time nanny or other available full-time childcare such as a relative or friend, then everyone’s schedule can be adjusted to account for the lack of school as the children stay home. Keeping the same childcare allows children to stay in an environment they know and with people they already trust. To create a summer schedule, the nanny or childcare provider can plan outings specific to the interests of the children. Special diets or exercise routines can be maintained or expanded. If the parents want the child to engage in workbook or reading activities to continue academically, the daily schedule can dedicate time for these activities.

Going from part-time to full-time is a significant increase in responsibility for the nanny or childcare provider. There should be back and forth discussions to ensure that expectations are clearly communicated, and compensation is increased appropriately. If there are going to be vacations and other times when the summer schedule may change, these events should also be discussed in advance.

2. Daycare. Most communities have multiple day care options and run summer programs. Good daycare programs have scheduled activities that differ daily, often with field trips that are not included in school year programs. Children are generally grouped by age and the number of adults supervising children is usually regulated. Lunch is included and often breakfast is an option. Although summer daycare programs may not include academics such as reading or math, the social aspect helps children mature and learn to function in a group setting. Daycares are usually open longer hours and provide parents varying drop off and pick up times.

Day camps

3. Day camps. Many different organizations – including sports associations, scouting, and churches – offer summer day camp programs. Day camps are generally a week-long and may last for part of the day or all day. Parents can enroll children in camps with activities that are particularly interesting to the children such as sports camp, drama camp, or music camp. There are even some academic day camps that focus on STEM, coding, and creative writing.

Summer camps can help children learn new skills and examine different interests. Camps encourage friendships through the buddy system and provide age appropriate levels of autonomy, so child develop independence. However, most day camps do not run all summer and may not supervise the child during a full workday. To manage these gaps, a child may attend soccer camp one week and scout camp the next. After camp care is often covered by neighbors or family members as parents are generally responsible for getting the child to and from the camp.

4. Hire a Summer Nanny. If the family does not have a full-time nanny or family members who can watch the children, hiring a summer nanny may be an option. While babysitters are responsible for the physical safety and well-being of the children under their care, nannies should have invested in childcare training so they can create a daily schedule that provides engagement as well as intellectual, social, physical, and emotional development. Summer nannies can work in the family’s home to create age appropriate learning environments, provide nutritious snacks and lunches, and lead fun, fitness activities. If you are thinking about hiring a nanny, check out this free resource, The Ultimate Guide on How to Hire a Nanny.

The Ultimate Guide to Hire a Nanny

Every family is unique, and these are not the only options for summer childcare. Although the best solution for your family may be one of the above, a combination of family support, day care, day camps, and paid childcare can provide quality care. For example, if you are thinking about hiring a summer nanny and have a close friend in the same situation, you may want to hire a single full-time nanny and have her watch both children. Or maybe, the child goes to summer camps for specific weeks, visits family for a couple of weeks and spends the rest of the time in day care. Decide what your goals are for summer care, research the options available in your area, and discuss the options with older children to determine the best fit for your family.

5 Ways to Reduce the Summer Slide

Summer learning loss, the summer slide, or summer setback is the when school age students return to school in the fall at lower levels of achievement than before the break.

School’s Out! School’s Out! Children love this chant and we are about to hear it a lot as we near the end of the school year. After all, summer is a time for sun, fun, and relaxation. In addition to planning vacations, have you thought about adding some structured learning?

Summer learning loss, the summer slide, or summer setback is the when school age students return to school in the fall at lower levels of achievement than before the break. The learning lost can be as much as 30% of their previous school-year achievements. Their skills – especially in reading and math – can regress. As a child care provider or parent, what can you do to minimize the summer slide?

child reading a book1. Daily Reading. Reading is an important aspect of learning and the best way to keep up academic achievement. Set a goal to read at least one chapter book a week. Let the children pick out their own books so that they enjoy their time reading but encourage them to read about science, history, and other topics. For beginner readers, encourage them to read to you every night before bed and help them with challenging words. For older children, they should read on their own each day. You should take an interest in their readings by asking questions during dinner about what was read that day.

2. Incorporate math into everyday activities. Adding math to your conversations requires some though but once you get into it, the amount of math you can add to your day will surprise you. A young child learning numbers and shapes can read house numbers during a neighborhood walk. Children learning fractions can help with cooking by measuring the ingredients. Older children working with percentages can help figure out a tip at a restaurant or the cost of an item on sale.

child playing with puppet doll3. Structured Playtime. Help children use their imagination to create stories and plays. Younger children love making up stories and can use old boxes and crafts to create a stage. Older children may enjoy filming themselves in a movie or writing a short story. For older children, a summer project such as building a model airplane, coding a simple video game, or mapping constellations can be fun.

4. Local trips. Your local community may have some great attractions including parks, parades, fireworks, and museums. Take time to attend some of these community events. A trip to the local historical park helps young children understand their history and how their town evolved. On the 4th of July, talk about the history of how our country was founded and teach them about US flag etiquette. If you visit a museum, encourage the children to read about the exhibits and talk about what they see.

child on bike5. Make it fun. Incorporate learning into whatever activities you do as a family. If you are camping for the weekend, talk about how fire impacts the forest and why it’s important to pick up trash and keep the animals from eating human foods. If you enjoy bicycling, review a book on birds and trees and spend some time on a bike trail learning about how the ecosystem works together with rivers, plants, and animals. A summer thunderstorm creates the perfect opportunity to research and learn about weather phenomena.

On average, a child loses 1-2 months of learning during a summer without instruction. This academic regression can be reduced with some thought and planning while still keeping the summer relaxed and fun. Children in your care can stay active, involved, and learning all summer long.

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