Adoptive Parents Talk Series: Summer plans for kids during COVID
For many parents, making summer plans usually involves a mix of planning a vacation and figuring out the right summer camps for their children. Obviously this year with the number of cases of COVID-19 still increasing, that’s not an option many families are considering.
In the second of our series, Adoptive Parent Talk (APT), a number of parents met virtually earlier this month to brainstorm ideas and share resources for making this most unusual of summers go as smoothly as possible. The families all agreed that the goal for summer was to find ways to keep their kids occupied and productive. That included allowing kids to work on projects independently, ways to socialize and limiting the amount of time on screens and devices.
The APT forums are meant to be a safe space for adoptive parents to talk honestly about their experiences and tap into other families’ research and insights.
The parents discussed some guidelines for creating a stress-free summer for your children. They include:
- Create structure, keep boundaries and set a routine. Make sure the routine includes a consistent wake up and bedtime.
- Build a routine based on YOUR child’s interest. Have your child list out things they would like to do. If they are very young or they don’t know how to, guide them and give them options to choose from.
- Learning is everywhere. There is learning in almost everything we do, so don’t make every camp an academic one. This is truly a time to explore other opportunities. If you must have academic camps , speak honestly with your child and get their buy-in and acceptance.
- Create a balance of activities. The activities should be balanced – think about including exercise, time for hobbies, social activities, independent projects and even time to be a little bored!
- Limit TV/screen/device time. Almost all phones or tablets have screen time restrictions under Settings. Use them to keep things on track.
- Get creative. Enjoy the process of figuring out what to do, Google for ideas, talk to friends and family. See below for some really fun ideas from parents.
For working parents, the summer presents unique challenges. Some suggestions ranged from making sure your routine and your child’s don’t conflict with each other. One parent suggested hiring a local high school student regularly to give yourself a break. If you’re worried about social distancing, you can have them, play outside or take the child for a walk in the park. You could also get them help the child with a project or activity.
Some creative ideas from families
- Photograph series. If you have a camera or phone camera, you can have your child select a topic and take pictures. You can print them out on a canvas and hang in your house or create an album or collage. Some ideas for subjects range from the yard to small insects to the sky or clouds. You could even have the child photograph the same few plants or sunset everyday to see how they change. Or they could have fun doing portraits of their family or friends with different expressions.
- Secret friend letters. To encourage writing, you could have your child pick a few friends and they each write letters as a “Secret friend.” You can continue the mystery for a few weeks and eventually arrange for them to meet in a park for a grand reveal!
- Encourage reading – don’t be judgmental. You should encourage your child to read whatever interests them. For example, one person’s child enjoys reading news articles on kidnapping, murder, sensational news etc. The goal is for them to read and comprehend and these avenues are just as good as picking up a book.
- Low contact sports. Invite friends over to a park or yard to play low contact sports such as badminton, tennis, spike ball, frisbee, pickleball, racquetball, trampoline, paddle ball, kite flying, remote controlled outdoor toys.
- Cooking. Have your child pick a recipe from a cookbook or online. Video recipes from Youtube are fun and easier to follow. Give them a day a week that they have to provide a meal!
Some additional resources and programs:
Other parent resources:
- Wired Parenting FB Group
- Parenting in place Masterclass
- Virtual summer camps for kids
- Bay Area online summer camp
- Podcasts for kids