Here is some good news kids, “Summer vacation is approaching!” Parents, here is some bad news…”Summer vacation is approaching…”

Is the arrival of summer so bad? Why do parents find this time stressful? Children can answer that question with one simple statement, “I am bored.” Does boredom lead to cognitive decline? In short, not necessarily, especially depending on how the downtime is used. While keeping children busy with extracurricular activities and screen time could be helpful and a great learning experience, it is also important to provide some downtime. Balance is the key to this thought process.

In, “The Yes Brain” by Daniel J. Siegal M.D., and Tina Payne Bryson, providing children with a balanced life through imaginative play can lead to discovery and exploration, along with learning about interests and disinterests. Through play, children learn and build upon planning and predicting, consequences, and cognitive skills. Not only does play enhance such aspects, but it also provides children a space to practice being social and learning emotional regulation.

Parents, you have so much going on in your lives. Doesn’t it feel good now and again to reset? The same can be said about children. During summer break, children can spend time with family and friends, leading to socializing and creating connections.

Children can also catch up on sleep, which is another huge aspect of development. It is said within The Yes Brain book, that age and development play a huge role in how many hours of sleep (including naps) are needed for each age range. To put sleep hours into a visual perspective, Daniel J. Siegal M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson share The American Academy of Sleep Medicine results, which are endorsed by The American Academy of Pediatrics. Let’s take a look at what is being recommended:

Ages 4-12 months= 12-16 hours of sleep (including naps)

Ages 1-2 years old= 11-14 hours of sleep (including naps)

Ages 3-5 years old= 10-13 hours of sleep (including naps)

Ages 6-12 years old= 9-12 hours of sleep

Ages 13-18 years old= 8-10 hours of sleep

I ask all parents to ponder upon these numbers. Are your children getting enough sleep? Sleep is a crucial component of the well-being of a child. Summertime can be the perfect time to catch up and create healthy sleep patterns for the upcoming school year.

As Daniel J. Siegal M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson explain, downtime is different from planned extra-curricular time. Typically, extra-curricular time involves activities such as soccer, dance, baseball, chess practice, etc. These types of activities are not to be discouraged but should be balanced with rest and self-exploration. Television, video games, and screen time…what is the deal with those? Again, the main consideration to keep in mind is a balanced lifestyle. One that can provide children with time to rest, explore, and be involved in the social aspects of the community.

Sleep, rest, and free play during summer, how many of you are in? But what should you do when your child comes up to you and says, “I am bored”? The answer is not a simple one parents, but providing space for your child to use their imagination can be the start. Allow them to explore the yard and play in the mud. This will engage the right side of their brain. This will help them build those core memories. Give them some tools to engage in a different and unique play where they can create their scenarios. Parents, while this information may be helpful it may not always be perfect and that is okay. Give it a try though. You never know, you might also be cheering hooray for the summer! Hooray for downtime! Regardless, you’ve got this parents!

To get some ideas, check these links out:

STEM Resources for Parents | National Inventors Hall of Fame®

100 Summer Fun Ideas for Kids and Parents

Free Summer Bucket List for Teens Printable Checklist (

10 Cool Activities with Ice to Kickstart the Summer – Happy Tot Shelf

Check out “The Yes Brain” for more:

The Yes Brain: How to Cultivate Courage, Curiosity, and Resilience in Your Child: Siegel, Daniel J., Bryson, Tina Payne: 9780399594663: Books

Written by Celina Peña