– Hello and thank you for being here! We're pleased to present another article written exclusively for Therapy Shoppe® families by developmental psychologist, Dr. Carol Claflin.

Summer break will soon be here! As the need for social distancing continues, this summer will quite likely be a lot different than "normal" for most families. 

Creating new routines and maintaining a schedule helps provide structure and a sense of control. It's common for children to have fears of the unknown, especially with the major changes most families have experienced secondary to schooling, layoffs, and sheltering at home.  Consistency and knowing what's coming next helps children feel more secure; routines and schedules can both help decrease some of the stress and anxiety that often go with changes. 

Here are some simple tips for creating a new routine at home for summer.

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 1.  Involve your children in the process of brainstorming a new routine.

Brainstorm and include everyone's ideas about a new summer routine! Involve all family members in this process even though every idea might not end up in the final schedule.


 2.  Keep your basic family routine the same.

Try to keep well-established routines the same for children.  Maintain routines like:  getting up in the morning, bathing routines, getting dressed, meal times, bedtimes (or set a new later bedtime for the summer), amount of time allowed for recreational electronics, etc. 

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 3.  Consider what to include as you create your new summer routine.

Due to the current circumstances and restrictions, there may be a lot of time to fill. When establishing a new routine at home consider things like: when to do regular chores, length of time for events, where things will take place, how to include school work and educational activities, break times (sensory and movement breaks can be super helpful for children), things to do instead of extra-curricular activities, family outings, etc.  Many religious, civic, and recreational groups/ organizations are offering online services, meetings, and events.

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 4.  Incorporate some "stress-busting" activities.
Stress and anxiety are running high right now. Be as pro-active as possible to reduce or eliminate it by using coping strategies like: deep breathing, yoga, exercise, stress-relieving fidget tools, visualization, and more to help prevent/manage stress and anxiety.
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 5.  Use your school's guidelines for assignments, recommended work time based on grade level, and be sure to factor in age-appropriate attention span expectations.

If you're planning to continue home schooling activities this summer, consider utilizing the many online resources that are available.  Think outside of the box! Cooking together involves reading, math, science, communication and cooperation, and feedback on the end result. Yum! Other activities that incorporate several disciplines include gardening, building, music, exploring genealogy, virtual trips to National Parks, etc.

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 6.  Have your kids make a picture schedule of the order and times of activities for your family's schedule.

It can also be helpful to do this for their individual school and learning schedule. This is especially crucial for children who have special needs that need structure and routine to function well.


 7.  Take turns being "the teacher" for classes geared for your entire family.


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 8.  Schedule time for regular exercise.

There are lots of free online resources for structured workouts and fun exercise type activities! "PE with Joe" offers daily different “workouts" at 9:00 M-F on his YouTube channel that are "geared for kids," but really are nice for the entire family. Plan outdoor activities your family members can do outside together while maintaining 6-foot social distancing from others. Go for walks and bike rides, play tag or badmiton in the back yard, play 4-square or hopscotch in the driveway, have relay races, rollerblade (don't forget your helmets), etc. Have family members do things outside together while maintaining 6-foot social distancing from others. 

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 9.  Make a special effort to schedule time for your kids to connect with their friends, loved ones, and teammates, etc.

This can be done by phone, snail mail, email, electronic apps (like FaceTime, GoogleDuo, Skype, Zoom, etc.), or via virtual playdates. Need more ways to stay safely connected? See our exclusive article "Fun Ways To Stay Connected With Friends and Family While Socially Distancing."


10.  Consider having a "theme of the week" to make your summer more fun.

Possible themes could be: water fun, art, fun in the kitchen, making music, etc. If your theme is water fun, come up with some fun water art activities, put on your bathing suits and run through the sprinker, do some water science experiements (such as exploring the 3 states of water), play with water balloons and squirters, have water relays, create a fun oudoor water kitchen for the kids, make floating toys for the bathtub, fill cups with different amounts of water and make beautiful music, construct a Barbie swimming pool... encourage your kids to let their imaginations soar and see what kinds of fun things they come up with! 

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Please join us again soon for more tips, helpful resources, and fun activity ideas for your famiily. In the meantime. Know we're just a phone call or email away if you need us. Stay well and have a good week! 

Your Therapy Shoppe Family ❤️

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