Easing Kids’ Summer Routine Transitions: Tips for Smoother Sailing

Summer is almost here, and for many kids that means a big disruption in their daily routines. No more waking up and going to school five days a week. Instead, the summer brings a constantly shifting schedule of day camps, vacations, and different activities each week.

These transitions can be really tough for kids to adjust to, especially those who thrive on predictable routines. As soon as they get used to the rules, schedule, and friends at one camp, it’s time to switch gears to a new camp with a whole new program, counselors, and kids to get to know.

Talk It Through Beforehand
One way to help ease these transitions is to talk about the changes in routine ahead of time. A few days before a new camp or vacation, sit down with your child and go over what to expect. Explain where they’ll be going, what a typical day might look like. Don’t just discuss any differences from their previous routine, focus on aspects that will remain the same, like waking up and having breakfast at home each morning before heading out. The familiarity of keeping some parts of the routine intact can provide comfort during times of change.

Use Visuals As A Guide
Creating a visual schedule with words and images can go a long way too. Make a chart showing the day’s events and activities at camp. Or map out the different camps, vacations, and activities happening over the course of a week or month. Seeing it all laid out visually helps reinforce the new routine. You can even look up photos, videos or use Google Maps/Earth to give kids a virtual preview of the new camp grounds or vacation spot. Increased familiarity reduces anxiety.

Do A Practice Run
The “drive-by practice” idea is another great tip. The weekend before a new camp session starts, drive by the location and point out where the kids will go, where you’ll pick up/drop off, etc. You can model that you’re learning the routine too by narrating things like “Oh, here’s where we’ll park!” Seeing the actual physical space, even from the car, can get kids more comfortable and make that first morning drop-off less disruptive.

With some simple preparation, you can help smooth your child’s transition into their new summer rhythm. The goal is to reduce anxiety and increase predictability as much as possible in a season that is full of change and new adventure

To hear more summer parenting tips, join our Parent Education Series workshops!

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