youth development clinic

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 YDC Executive Director Mark Kitzie, PsyD


As we approach our 60th anniversary this November, it is worthwhile to pause and reexamine our roots.  In 1958, the Youth Development Clinic of Newark was incorporated with the support of Prudential Insurance Co. and the Newark Board of Education. The original statement of purpose is below: 

“To maintain a service or clinic to which Newark children under the age of 21 years, and adults from Service Area 4 may apply or be referred for diagnosis, case treatment of and for mental emotional disturbances or illnesses; to assist by every lawful means the dissemination of information regarding the work of the said service and/or clinic; to work in cooperation with other agencies and individuals interested in the welfare of children toward the end that the mental health of all persons: in the community, and particularly of its children, shall be safeguarded and promoted; and to foster interest among its members and throughout said community in, and develop supports for, the work of the clinic in order to increase its scope and effectiveness”. 

The YDC office was originally located at 990 Broad Street then moved to 303-309 Washington Street, then to Columbia Street, and after being displaced to make room for the Prudential Center, to its present location at 500 Broad Street.  

Today, we find ourselves in a very different climate, but the main tenets of our original mission remain: to provide high-quality mental health services to the children and families of Newark and deliver these services in community settings. Just as our mission has little changed, we have reclaimed our original name: Youth Development Clinic of Newark, which provides important continuity and name recognition.   

We continue to “keep the mission alive” through a renewed emphasis on serving clients with Medicaid insurance, as well as clients referred by child protective services in our community-based mental health clinic.  In fact, demand has increased to the extent that we are looking at securing additional space to accommodate rapidly increasing numbers of children and families requesting services.  In addition, we are working in five Newark schools to provide behavioral and mental health support to students.   

Thanks to all our funders and supporters – you’re needed more now than ever.  Also, thank you to our extraordinary and highly capable group of clinicians and administrators who are passionate about the work we do.  Finally, I hope that you will continue to consider yourself as part of the “YDC family”.  Here’s to continuing to grow and adapt for another 60 years! 

Mark Kitzie, PsyD
Executive Director
Youth Development Clinic of Newark