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.
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.
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.
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