Summer break is almost here! If you aren’t planning ahead, it will sneak up on you and you will have little ones around the house looking to be entertained. Start the summer out right with a whole list of activities to keep your kids happy and healthy throughout the next few months.
Plan the Big Events First
Before you figure out the smaller things, plan out what activities and events will occupy the majority of your kids’ time over the summer break. Do some research and figure out what activities and programs are available in your local area. Ideas to check out:
- Summer camps. Check out sleep away camps as well as day camp programs. If your child is in boy or girl scouts, theirtroop may end up organizing a camp for the summer. However, lots of areas also have permanent summer camps, but you will need to be ready to sign up your child well in advance. In addition, lots of organizations including universities, community colleges, high schools, libraries, museums, and churches will set up day camps for your kids. Many have themes like art camp, soccer camp, vacation bible school, etc. and while they are not sleep away, they will give your kids a regular schedule as they will have to get up and go to camp each day just like with school during the school year.
- Vacations. Are you planning a summer vacation trip this year? Get the dates down on the calendar so the little ones have those vacation days to look forward to. Things that seem like chores like packing a suitcase and clothes shopping can become fun activities when the kids are looking forward to a vacation.
- Summer classes. Though these are usually geared at older kids, you can see if your child wants to sign up for summer classes. These are usually fun classes like painting, theater, or music that keep your child having fun but also learning over the summer.
- Daycare. Many working parents need to take advantage of daycare services during the summer months. Check your area for daycares offered by schools, churches, or private organizations. Choose one where your child will be able to play with children their own age.
Providing Consistent Activity
One big challenge for parents is making sure your kids continue to learn and grow while they are in vacation mode. Providing some sense of planned activity is a great way to keep your child engaged while still having fun. Check out these ideas:
- Summer reading camp. Many libraries and some bookstores and schools organize summer reading programs for kids in diverse age groups. At the start of the summer, find out the book list for the summer reading camp and get all of them in advance. Then take your child to the library or bookstore and have them choose out even more books they’d like to read over the summer. Sometimes these reading camps have regular “meetups” so be sure to write these dates down in your calendar. Alternatively, you could start your own book club for neighborhood kids. Make it an event! Have your child help you design signs and then order them from a company like eSigns to hang on your house on the day of the “book club” to welcome the kids. If the book for that month or week had a theme, decorate the party in that theme. Like a cute animal party for Stuart Little or a pirate party for Treasure Island.
- Local subject teachers. Did your child have a rough year in math? Find a local tutor and sign your child up for regular appointments. This will give your child a running start on the coming school year and will help them make up for any slowness they had during the school year. Alternatively, did your child excel in Spanish class this year? Also consider signing them up with a tutor in subjects where they excel so they can keep learning and will stay engaged over the summer. Listen to your child on this one. If there is something they would like to learn like guitar, why not let them choose what they want to start learning?
Ideas for the Odd Hours
Once you’ve accounted for the major activities, start thinking about the everyday stuff to keep kids entertained. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
- Sidewalk chalk games.
- Clothesline art show. Invite over neighborhood kids and friends to hang their own pieces in the “gallery.”
- Put glow sticks in water bottles for some nighttime backyard bowling.
- Make fun snacks like homemade popsicles.
- Open a lemonade stand.
- Stage a play or shoot a movie. Get out the dress up clothes, build a little stage in the backyard, and have the kids write the script.
- Take the kids on a nature hike. Bring along a nature book for young kids so they can identify plants, animals, and bugs they see and draw pictures of what they’ve spotted.
- Get some small gardening gloves and small, child-safe spades and get the kids gardening.
Keeping the kids entertained over the summer is all about keeping them engaged, thinking, having fun, and being active. Focus on creative tasks and encourage the kids to be creative in rethinking old games and activities to make them new.