With summer in full swing, I’m sure most parents are wondering how to keep their kids entertained, with the cost of living increasing it’s becoming more difficult to take a group of kids for a day out to an amusement park, or zoo. Many parents are finding themselves at home, trying to fill the day without relying too heavily on screens.  There are ways to thrive this summer, and not just survive.

You can easily incorporate some Montessori principles into your summer routine that will make your life much easier, give your children independence, and have a fun and successful summer without overspending!

Embrace the wonders of nature: budget-friendly outdoor adventures. Plan for a mix of structure and free play each day. This balanced approach not only keeps your children engaged but also reassures you that you’re providing a well-rounded summer experience.

Montessori principles in your summer routine:

Morning predictable routine for kids:

Create a routine that starts the day with some structure—wake up, chores, breakfast, for example. This will create some predictability and keep the day stress-free.

Let them choose what they want to wear and get dressed on their own and look after their own needs as much as possible, this will foster their all-round development.

Mid-morning: free play!

Mid-morning, allow your kids to get outside for some free play. Morning is the best time for outdoor time, especially on those days when the afternoon sun can make it too hot. Gather some outdoor toys, or just allow them to play with what they find in the environment or dig in the garden etc. –  make them entertain themselves. It’s okay for kids to get bored!

Lunch: Let your kids help with food preparation

Foster some independence by allowing them to select from a few options for lunch and allow them to help in preparing it.

Encouraging children to participate in food preparation not only helps them develop practical skills, responsibility, and confidence but also allows them to contribute to the household.

Many parents also find that this helps picky eaters enjoy a meal more and become more adventurous with what they try if they’ve already touched the foods.  Empower your child by involving them in tasks that align with their abilities.

Afternoon: Structured activity for kids, like a playdate, craft or outing

Make a calendar with what activities you can do each week. Let your kids help make these decisions.

Encourage your kids to think about who they want to play with or where they want to go. Giving them options helps them learn to make decisions from a young age, so they can handle tough choices later on. Start with simple choices and then add more to help them get better at making decisions.

Structured summer activities for kids that are low-cost:

Something as simple as a play date can sometimes be the most memorable for kids. So, set up some time for kids to play with friends. Encourage them to pick the friends they’d like to play with or let them choose an activity to do; this can be a swim at the local pool, a trip out for ice cream, or a visit to the local library.

You don’t need to fill every afternoon with an activity, but let your kids pick a few things each week to look forward to. On the non-structured day you can go for a bike ride, play in the sprinkler or just allow them to have more unstructured time.

Instead of planning every activity, encourage kids to play and explore on their own. This approach helps them unleash their creativity, become more independent, and find what they’re into. When they really like something, think about ways to make it more challenging and fun for them.

Late Afternoon: quiet time!

After a full day of both free play and structured time, your kids have probably had adequate activity and fresh air. Now is often a good time to give them some quiet time; this can be a book, screens, coloring, or any other quiet activity they like to do that allows parents the chance to gather themselves, start dinner prep, and have some of your own quiet time, too.

It’s a time to sit without guilt – you deserve a break, too!

Montessori principles to think about this summer:

Build their self-belief and confidence by only stepping in to help when they really need it. Give them a chance to try, struggle, and figure it out on their own.

  • Encouraging your kids to make choices and offering them options fosters a mindset focused on decision-making.
  • Assigning them tasks and daily chores to help with household responsibilities and teach them valuable life skills and independence.
  • Whenever possible, allow them to take the lead.

Natalie Martinez is a wife, mother, daughter, sister. She's a social worker and advocate for mental health and women's rights.

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