June 13, 2013

Guest Post: Tips for a Successful (Educational) Summer

With the arrival of the end of the school year, students’ schedules and routines are changing. Summertime often means a schedule full of camps, vacations, and fun! With the start of summer, that doesn’t have to mean that learning stops. Summer is a great time to continue to help your child develop his executive function skills, through goal setting, planning, and time management.

With summer vacation just around the corner (or already here for some students), here are a few tips to help your children plan and make the most of their summer.

Set goals

Summer is a great time for children to reflect and set goals for themselves. Start by having your child write down a list of five things he wants to do this summer, and five things he could do this summer to get ready for the next school year. If your child is having a difficult time coming up with a list or is not sure where to start, try asking some of these questions:

  • Is there something you’ve been wanting to do, but didn’t have time for during the school year?
  • Is there something you’d like to save your money for?
  • Is there a skill that you didn’t quite master during the school year, like tying shoes or multiplication tables?
  • Did any of your teachers assign a summer challenge, such as a summer reading list?


Now that you and your child have an idea of what he’d like to do this summer, help him prioritize and determine what he actually has time to do. Encourage your child to think about “what do I need to do this summer?” versus “what do I want to do this summer?” Have your child rank the items on his list by labeling each A, B, or C.

  • A items are high priority or “must do” items.
  • B items are important to your child, but fall into the “want to do” category.
  • C items are low priority “wish-list” items to do if time permits.

Make a schedule

Start by  having your child write all of his important events on a blank calendar. This might include vacation, summer camp, family members coming to visit, or holidays. Be sure to include recurring events too, such as swimming lessons or tutoring. If your child benefits from visual organization, you can use different colors for different types of activities.


Make a plan

Now it’s time to make a plan to reach those A-list goals. Look at the items on your child’s list that are labeled with A. Help your child figure out how much time each of those items will take and schedule them in throughout the summer on your child’s calendar. If your child has five books to read, when should each book be completed? Work backwards from the projected completion dates to plan how many pages should be read each week. Don’t forget to take into account busy weeks and plan for a lighter load of reading during those times.

After the A list items are scheduled, see if you can fit in any B-list items. Some might be as simple as scheduling an overnight with a friend. Others, such as saving money for a desired video game, might take more time and planning. Break it down into how much money needs to be saved each week. Continue down your child’s list and see if one or two of the C-list items can fit into the summer schedule. As you and your child are creating the summer schedule, he may re-prioritize or shift his goals. That’s okay! This is really all about learning to plan, organize, and manage time to reach a goal.

Reach those goals! 

Post your child’s summer schedule in an easily accessible place in your home. This will allow your child to visualize the big picture and to monitor his progress. By checking items off as they are achieved, your child will feel a sense of accomplishment and be motivated to continue striving toward his goals!

Summer is a time for fun and relaxation, but it can also be an opportunity for growth and learning. By helping your child set goals, prioritize, and create a schedule, you can help your child have a fun and productive summer. You will also help set the framework for a productive school year in the fall.

Guest Author Bio:

Abby Brayton-Chung, MS, OTR/L is a pediatric occupational therapist with 6 years of experience providing OT services to children of all ages and in a variety of settings, including public and private schools. Abby currently specializes in developing executive function skills in students with language based learning disabilities. Abby blogs about her experiences as an OT at