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Health Tips for Parents

2007 Issues

What is a good summer routine?

What is a good summer routine?

With summer just around the corner, parents should think about setting guidelines and establishing a routine for children so the summer is enjoyable, but not aimless. The summer routine does not necessarily need to be as structured as during the school year, says Rachelle Tyler, M.D., a developmental-behavioral pediatrician at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA. “Setting limits at the beginning of the summer, and encouraging a routine, supports a child’s concept of planning and moderation, which are very important life skills,” she explains.

Talk to your children about what activities they might like to participate in during the summer. For example, find out what they want to learn about, see or do. With this information, parents can present options to children such as camp, enrichment classes or special excursions.

Encourage activities

Summer camp can give children opportunities to improve skills and make friends. Various camps cater to just about every child and interest.

In addition to private camps, many community parks and organizations offer day-camp programs as well as team sports and athletic-skills programs. Other activities may be hiding in plain sight. For example, hobby stores,libraries, museums and community centers often run summertime programs for children.

Academic programs

Children should keep up with reading and other academic skills during the summer months, Dr. Tyler says. Many schools supply summer reading lists or assign summer projects. Parents can encourage summer reading as a pleasurable activity, Dr. Tyler says, by taking a weekly trip to the library to select at least one new book. By reinforcing academic skills, parents demonstrate for children that practice is necessary for success.

For children who have struggled in school with a particular subject – or who may benefit from a jumpstart on a new subject – summer school or academic tutoring programs may be appropriate.

Set schedules and limits

Everyone functions more efficiently with structure. Parents – together with their children – can make a weekly or monthly planning sheet detailing activities, events and chores. With a schedule, children become an integral part of ongoing activities, with an established set of expectations and goals for which they are accountable.

Even with a schedule, activities such as watching TV and using the computer may intrude more during the summer months. Dr. Tyler cautions to “hold children to the same limits they had during the school year.” Too much unstructured time will only make it more difficult to get back into the school routine in September.

Family fun

In addition to vacations, summer provides great opportunities for families to see or do things together that they might not have had time for during the school year. Whether a leisurely family bike ride or a visit to the aquarium, summertime is the perfect time to catch up on activities that enrich a child’s life and bring families closer together.

This information is provided courtesy of the pediatricians at the Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA. UCLA Healthcare pediatricians are conveniently located in your neighborhood. In addition to our Children’s Health Center in Westwood, we have offices in Brentwood, Culver City, Manhattan Beach, Santa Monica, and West Los Angeles. Additional information can be found on the UCLA Healthcare website at www.healthcare.ucla.edu or by calling 1-800-UCLA-MD1 (1-800-825-2631).

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