So what's to stress about? Maybe plenty. "Children -- and parents -- often find transitions difficult, and the school-to-summer change removes many of the structures, routines, and expectations that children rely on," says Scott L. Barking, a psychologist in Brooklyn, New York, and father of three school-age children.
"Many parents go into summer with a wish and a hope, rather than a plan for what they want to accomplish," says Virginia Shiller, a psychologist in New Haven, Connecticut, and author of Rewards for Kids! (Magination Press). "The end result can be a chaotic household with whining children who complain they're bored, argue with each other, and just generally get in Mom's hair." Here are ways to help your family slip into summer with a minimum of mayhem.
As Shiller says, a successful summer is a well-planned one.
All children benefit from clear expectations and some structure during the summer months, says Barking, CEO of the Block Institute, a nonprofit agency that serves developmentally delayed children and adults.
Many children experience academic slippage during the summer, which can make it difficult for them to get back on track when school starts again, says Stacy DeBroff of Newton, Massachusetts, author of The Mom Book Goes to School: Insider Tips to Ensure Your Child Thrives in Elementary and Middle School (Free Press). Fight academic amnesia by keeping kids intellectually engaged throughout summer.
Originally published in Better Homes & Gardens magazine, May 2006.