summer vacation
Kids running out of the school for summer break. Photo flickr.com

Summer vacation is finally here; school’s out, and kids are ready to play!

While kids enjoy a break from school from June to August, it’s the parents who really dread these months of the year. Vacations mean stress for mothers and fathers who have to make sure their children have constructive activities to occupy their time.

“Mom, I’m bored,” Dad, there’s nothing to do!” Most parents wish this season were simpler. Instead, it’s all about crazy schedules, bigger expenses, and “who’s going to babysit the kids while we’re working?”

Babysitters, child care facilities, summer camps, and excursions cost a lot, and Barranquillero parents often feel overwhelmed by the prices, especially in June, when they have to pay for the school tuition for next year too. Some are lucky to find cheap options, but as soon as the flyers come out, slots get filled up quickly.

Lately in this city, there are many options (artistic, sport, academic). If you’re organized and save money in advance, you can find activities that last up to 3 weeks long. Take your time to find the right one for your kid, and remember it will cost you more if your make the wrong choice. If you want, you can also ask for advice at your Family Allowance Fund such as at Comfamiliar. They have many special offers during vacation, and if you need it, they can also help you with the expenses.

Another solution is to ask relatives to take care of the kids. This method has many benefits but also a few pitfalls. Asking a family member to watch the children allows them to build a greater bond with the caregiver. Parents also can have more peace of mind than they could get from a stranger, and at the same time, they can save a lot of money. In our culture, this is a very common practice, accepted and reinforced by great parents. However, there’s also the problem of children experiencing “The Summer Slide” when the person tasked to look after the kids doesn´t provide them with stimulating activities.

Nevertheless, summer vacation accentuates parental stress and the child care dilemma. School Counselor Angela Buendía explains that most parents, regardless their income bracket, experience more stress during this season since they are exposed to unhealthy habits like junk food, fewer hours of sleep, and more physical efforts in activities with their kids.

Buendía recommends that parents be predictive of the summertime and prepare beforehand to manage, otherwise, the lack of structure can easily break a home’s routine balance. She provides these guidelines to maximize enjoyment during the break and to help light parents’ way:

Stick to a schedule but leave room for down time too.

It’s common for parents to feel relieved from having to enforce bedtime routines, but they should stay strong and keep the limits. Enforce kids’ sleeping habits, in particular on the last days of class, when schools organize end-of-year activities that overstimulate children and then send them back home early. A simple calendar of events let the child see what’s coming. Mom and Dad can fill it in ahead of time with a mix of major activities, such as participating in a summer camp, visiting relatives, going on a family trip to Cartagena, visiting a zoo, etc.

But don’t forget that there should still be time to relax; leave some blank spaces in the calendar, so kids can do whatever they want, and make sure there is time at the end of the day for the family to be together and relaxed, talk, read, eat, etc.

Keep it Social

Summer can be a difficult change for children as they face a long time without interacting with other kids. Sure, spending time with parents and family is important but don’t forget to encourage social interactions for your children. Arrange playdates with classmates to maintain friendships, and help them make new friends in summer camps and other activities.

Inspire Education

Ask your kids to reflect on what they learned, what was challenging, how they dealt with it, and of what they are proud. They can tell you about their favorite classroom activities so you can recreate them at home. Don’t worry about your teaching skills and concentrate on having fun and involving your children in active playing and learning. Before throwing the notebooks away, take a look at them and ask your kid to talk about their favorite subject.

Set a time aside for reading; it will help expand your kids’ vocabulary, and improves their ability to think abstractly. Don’t worry about their choices; the important thing is that they open a book. Check out this link for Ministry of Culture to see what choices they have on offer in their recreational programs. The Museum of Modern Art also has a great program for this season.

In general, parents need to be entertainment directors of their kids during the vacation. You have to express your confidence in your child’s ability to be creative and manage their free time in a healthy way. Let them come up with ideas and act naturally. Some structure is needed but don’t forget to stand back, let your kids be kids, and make a few memories.

Editors Note: You can also enroll your child in an English class for the summer. Our partner school, Speak, is offering special programs right now for kids aged 6 to 8, 9 to 12 and 13 to 16 years old. Give them a call and start your child’s new year on the right track.

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