Kids need structure in the summer

By Bill D. Persinger Jr.
Mental Health Center of East Central Kansas

So, I was just thinking about warmer weather … can’t wait. Seems like it was a cold and windy winter! Thinking of summertime caused me to recall fond childhood memories, as well as memories of my own kids growing up.

As much fun as summer can be, I’ve always felt like our youth need some structure during this time of growth and exploration. And, while a break from school is welcomed by the time May rolls around, one of the countless benefits of school is the structure it provides; structure that kids need at home as well, especially during long holidays and the summer break.

A good balance of free time (which is so important to childhood development) and structure is an important part of a successful summer, especially for young children and those in the pre-adolescent years. For many teens, summer jobs provide structure and guidance, combined with some crucial learning about the adult world.

Each family, no matter how one defines “family” these days, creates their own structure based on traditions, resources, size and other factors. As a mental health professional, but more as a parent and an “Opa” (my grandkids’ word for grandfather), please consider how you, as the responsible adult in your family, will structure your kids’ time this summer.

Consider making a plan, and including your children in that plan, but keeping in mind that parents and caregivers are in charge. Lead the way. Set an example, and follow through.

Structure during the summer should make for a smoother transition back to school in August.


Bill D. Persinger Jr., executive director of the Mental Health Center of East Central Kansas, shares an occasional column on behavioral health. He can be contacted at [email protected]. For more information about MHCECK, click here.


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