SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (WDTN) – Since the pandemic, Miami Valley school districts have put an emphasis on mental health for their students. School leaders now want to make sure families are equipped to continue the progress made during the school year over summer break.

“With everything going on outside in our world at-large, we recognize that social-emotional health and mental health is vitally important,” Springfield City Schools Clinical Psychologist Dr. Martin Johnson said.

Johnson said one way to prioritize your child’s mental health over the summer months is by creating a predictable routine.

“Allowing kids to have a predictable routine throughout the summer will also help them manage those summer months, which will allow them a lot of different opportunities without the structure of school,” Johnson said.

School districts, including Beavercreek City Schools, have started to include social-emotional learning in the curriculum. Assistant Superintendent Bobbie Fiori said that progress doesn’t have to stop now that kids are home for the summer.

“A lot of what kids need in the summer is that time with family, playing outside and doing activities,” Fiori said. “As many opportunities to socialize as we can get kids in the summer, the better off they are, just so they can continue to apply the skills that they’ve learned.”

Colleen Oakes with the Montgomery County Prevention Coalition through ADAMHS warns time on social media does not count as socialization, and can do more harm than good.

“Something that we see from social media is that our kids think they are connecting with each other because they’re talking with each other and liking things, but they’re actually doing it on their own,” Oakes said.

ADAMHS offers a Digital Detox program for families, which includes a list of 101 tech-free things to do year-round.

Johnson said watch for any cues that aren’t normal behaviors, as those may be signs your child needs help.

“If your child is not engaging in activities that were previously enjoyable, that may be a red flag,” Johnson said. “If you notice that your child is talking less, or sleeping more or less.”

Johnson also said to check in with your child throughout the summer and have intentional conversations.

“Even if it’s five minutes during the day, just to ask how your kids are doing, what they’re engaged in,” Johnson said.

Fiori said if those conversations are not working, try reaching out to your child’s doctor or connecting them with someone who they might be more willing to open up to.

“It’s not easy always to figure out what’s going on with your child or to know how to help your own child,” Fiori said. “So reaching out to people and not being ashamed of that because I think every parent can use some help sometimes.”

Both Johnson and Fiori said their districts’ counselors or administrative staff will be available during the summer and are willing to point parents toward additional mental health resources if needed.