The school year is over and your child has ended the year strong. Congratulations! Let’s celebrate that your teen has acquired greater awareness of which strategies work to help with goal achievement and which actions contribute to the development of productive habits and routines. You as a parent have supported your teen to continue developing their independence, learn from their mistakes and choose to implement those strategies that help them feel successful.

Now that the summer is here, we don’t want all this progress to evaporate. Most parents complain that during the summer months, their children lose the skills acquired during the school year as they do not practice them during the summer. “It feels as if every fall term we have to reinvent the wheel,” says a parent. Indeed, teens and their families dread the start of the new school year feeling that they need to begin from “scratch” once more. This is not only frustrating but time consuming.

Why not then design a plan that can support and strengthen the habits that they have acquired throughout the year? In this way, the transition back to school will not only be smoother but more enjoyable.

Here are some tips of how to maintain last year’s momentum and strengthen it over the summer:

  1. SET GOALS: During the school year students have learned to set goals on areas that they want to improve and build the actions to make them more accountable. In the summer, we want to continue with this pattern. Students benefit from having goals to work for. Whether wanting to learn to learn a new language or play the guitar, find a job to help them save money, or prepare for the SAT, having clarity on what they want to attain keeps them motivated and engaged in something productive and meaningful.
  2. KEEP A ROUTINE: By the end of the school year students have built routines to help them stay organized and efficient. In the summer we want to maintain at least one of these routines intact and continue to implement the others in a revised form, instead of dropping them off completely. For instance, they may decide to keep their morning routine intact while modifying their evening routine. They can add flexibility to their evening routine by allowing time for a family movie or board game and maybe push their bedtime and hour later. The more consistent they are with their routines over the summer, the easier it will be to adjust to the new school year.
  3. MAINTAIN RULES AROUND ELECTRONICS: Even though we want to offer more flexibility and free time for teens to do what they like, it is important to continue reinforcing rules on electronics. Summer time should not be an excuse to allow screens in the bedroom at night or not assign a specific time and duration for kids to use them. Continuing to create electronic-free zones in the house and allowing opportunities for teens to be outside, playing sports, at camps or with friends, can help them divert attention from their screens and choose human connections instead.
  4. CHOOSE A SKILL THAT WAS HARD AND HONE IT: With the demands of the academic year it is often difficult to find time to focus on improving a skill that may be challenging. For example, students might realize that they are spending a long time writing their papers, doing their research or even typing their projects. Summer can be a perfect time to take a class, either in person or online, or find a tutor that can support them become proficient in a desired area.
  5. USE A CALENDAR: A huge part of consolidating a student’s organizational and planning skills is the constant use of a calendar. Throughout the year students have worked hard to built this skill. The summer is a great opportunity to continue using their physical and/or electronic calendar. Writing down their vacation plans, work schedule, summer classes, social gatherings, projects and appointments is a great way to continue keeping track of time and remain accountable.
  6. PICK AN ORGANIZATION PROJECT: As the school year evolves, students seem to continue accumulating objects that begin to create clutter in their bedroom. As shared in a previous article, clutter is the kryptonite of the ADHD brain. That is why it is so important to find small blocks of time to declutter these areas and start the year in a clutter-free zone. This same rule applies to digital clutter. Summer is a great time to clean mailboxes by unsubscribing, deleting old emails and getting rid of apps that are not useful.

My challenge today is to talk to your teen and ask them what they would like to accomplish this summer. See which one of the tips provided above resonate best. Continue to check in to celebrate their accomplishments. Let the summer be a time to enjoy your teen’s company and watch how they continue to gain the skills towards independence.

Wishing you a happy and successful summer,

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