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4 Ways Parents/Guardians Can Create Positive Structure for Kids in the Summer

Photo by  Charlein Gracia  on  Unsplash

Summer is finally here! But while kids are likely excited to have a few months off school, parents and guardians might be worried that the unstructured freedom of the summer months can take a toll on their children’s behavior or academics moving forward. We asked our team of clinicians at YDC to discuss ways that parents and guardians can create a sense of structure for their children while keeping things fun and preparing them for the upcoming school year at the same time.

Here's what they had to say:

Routine is Key!
Think about food and sleep as two vital pillars for your child's daily structure in the summer, a time when kids might stay up past their bedtimes, sleep until much later than normal, and eat at off-times. A sense of a schedule (albeit one that can be flexible depending on what's going on day-to-day!) will keep your child feeling positive and inspired to engage in activities.

Productive Play
Let your kids enjoy the weather and the outdoors! Depending your schedule, a great way to keep them active and social during the summer is by enrolling them in sports or other camps. In this way, children not only get physical exercise, but they also learn about team building and other skills. Organizations like the YMCA, Salvation Army, and Boys and Girls Club will have more information on programs and camps that are free or of little charge.

Read, Read, Read!
The summer months offer a perfect opportunity to fortify and enhance your child’s reading skills. The Newark Public Library offers an array of summer reading programs like the Summer Reading Challenge, during which children log reading times and receive incentives. The best part is that an NPL library card is free for Newark residents! Don’t have time to go to the library? We suggest creating a book club with your child. Create a reading schedule and discuss important themes to get the conversation started and keep them engaged. 

Spend Quality Time Together
We know parents and guardians lead busy lives, often balancing work, taking care of their children, and much more. But of course, it’s important to carve out some quality time with your child for their overall healthy emotional development. Plan activities that foster a sense of bonding when possible. If on a tight budget, activities like having a picnic in the park, going to a museum, or visiting the beach, are free or low cost. The idea is to create memories that your child can look back on fondly, knowing they have a loving parent in their lives to support them in whatever challenges that academics or life may present.

We hope you have a great summer! 

Quarterly Message from our Executive Director

Happy New Year to all our friends and supporters!

It’s been a year of challenges at the Youth Development Clinic as we’ve transitioned leadership, and with that, our central focus to building our core business – our community clinic. We are concurrently focusing on rebuilding and re-branding our community-based partnerships and our relationships with funders in order to put us on solid footing to carry our mission forward.  

That mission is an important and worthy one – to provide high quality, evidence-based, and culturally-informed services to an underserved population. Due to our community outreach efforts, the quality of our clinicians, and our high level of client satisfaction, we have doubled the number of clients that we are able to see at the clinic. We continue to grow rapidly, expanding our clinic hours to include Fridays, as well as looking at adding additional space to our clinic as we reach capacity.  

With our growth, we have hired several new clinicians, expanding our ability to provide services to Creole and Portuguese families while maintaining our strong Bi-lingual/Spanish services and sensitivity to the cultural and systems factors which underlie our work with African-American families.   

Our ability to deliver on this mission is bolstered by our relationships with Montclair State University and other academic institutions. This coming year, one of our goals is to partner with university faculty to identify and implement cutting-edge treatments and interventions in our clinic and school-based settings. We also continue our strong externship program that trains doctoral-level students to develop skills to work effectively with underserved populations.  

In an effort to increase accessibility to mental health services to children and families, we have established our first school-based, Medicaid-approved clinic in a K-5 school in Newark. This is an exciting achievement in that we will be able to not only work with students, but with families, almost all of which are in walking distance of the school. We hope to replicate this model going forward.

Other school-based services that we provide include supporting student behaviors conducive to learning while working with teachers on classroom management and developing more positive interactions with students. We currently provide services in three K-8 schools and one K-3 school in Newark.  

Needless to say, this is all possible only with the continued support of our funders. Thank you to all who lend support to our mission. If you are able to contribute, your time or financial support is most welcome and appreciated. As of this year, it’s been 60 years since our founding. Let’s continue to make a difference – together – for another 60!

Mark Kitzie, PsyD
Executive Director
Youth Development Clinic