SummaryLooking for ideas on how to help children move away from screen time and get moving? Patricia Purcell has tips on showing kids how to really enjoy summer.
Once upon a time, in the land where you now live, kids knew how to enjoy summer.
The grown-ups were in charge during the rest of the year with rules about homework, wearing coats, and eating vegetables. But once the final school bell rang in June, kids fled the restrictions of indoors and headed outside to really live.
They didn’t need anyone to tell them what to do because back then children hadn’t lost the art of playing. They filled their days with riding bikes, meeting friends at the park or pool, and inventing and playing games like kick-the-can or flashlight tag.
During the long months of summer, they became tan, lean, and bug bitten, but the grown-ups let them be because everyone knew that summer was a special time when kids had the chance to be active in a way that they could not during the school year.
Today, things are different. Suburbs resemble ghost towns as kids are packed off to day camps, while their parents are at work. Backyard swings sway empty in the breeze, and what children remain at home are apt to be inside hunched over a tablet or game console. Today, our children have lost touch with the magic of summer.
1. Physical Activities
An active kid is a happy kid, but, with neighborhoods virtually empty of playmates, it may take a nudge to get kids moving. Check with your local Parks and Recreation Department as many towns host low cost day camps during the summer. Other ideas include:
- Swim Lessons. Whether at a local pool or lake, swimming is a great way to keep kids active during the summer. They’ll cool off while keeping fit.
- Summer Sports Leagues or Clinics. Because the summer season is short, it can be an ideal time for kids to try a new sport or to hone skills in a sport they already play.
- Youth Leadership Opportunities. Programs, such as the Civil Air Patrol, Young Marines, or scouting, often have camps that are designed for teens to challenge themselves while gaining discipline, skills, and confidence. Even a traditional “just for fun” overnight camp will likely offer your child a chance to learn out of the ordinary skills.
- Fresh Air Time. If none of the ideas above appeals to your child, still insist that he gets outside daily. Take him to the park, or set him loose in the backyard with the sprinkler. He may beg to stay out longer.
2. Preventing Brain Drain
While summer is meant to be all about fun, it’s still important to make sure youngsters use their brains during the off months.
Nothing is worse than re-teaching in September what was already learned last spring! Fortunately, summer learning doesn’t have to feel like work. Here are some ideas to help you keep your kids’ brains sharp.
- Daily Reading Time. Why not select a childhood classic and read together? Part of the fun of books is discussing the plot and characters with someone else.
- Summer Reading Programs. Public libraries and schools often host summer reading programs with fun activities and incentives to encourage kids to read.
- Learning on the Move. Road trips can be a great time to squeeze in a little learning. Challenge kids to recite their math facts, or listen to an audio book as you drive. It will make the time go faster, and, once at your destination, you can focus on fun!
- Summer Courses. Some families find that saving a course or two for the slow summer months makes the whole year easier. There are also classes offered by local colleges or online programs so kids can delve into an area of particular interest.
- Learn a New Skill. Does your child want to take up painting or piano (or practically anything), but there never seems to be time to fit it in? Let him or her try it during the summer, and you’ll soon know whether it’s worth squeezing it in to your school year schedule.
During the school year, moms are often guilty of doing a job themselves to save time rather than getting their kids to do it. Set a chore schedule during the summer, and then try to stick to it during the rest of the year. Extra summer chores that kids can help with (and maybe earn a little spending money from) include:
- Gardening. Let kids help with planting, watering, weeding, and harvesting. Even if your crop is disappointing, it will get them outdoors.
- De-Cluttering. Start out the new school year right by making sure your house is organized. Get kids to help with cleaning out cabinets and closets and filling them up again only with what you need.
4. Family Fun
The slower pace of summertime lends itself to indulging in some good old-fashioned family fun. Even when you’re not vacationing away from home, there are opportunities for enjoying good times with your kids. The following are a few examples.
- Family Game Day. Rainy summer days provide the perfect opportunity to pull out that dusty stack of board games or jigsaw puzzles.
- Day Trips. Check local historic sites and attractions. Some may offer significant discounts for homeschoolers on certain days.
- Party Time. Do you have a pool or a big back yard? Invite some other families over for a potluck. Summer entertaining is easy!
5. Keep Kids Active All Summer Long
Today’s kids might need a little help to discover the glories of summer, but it’s well worth the effort to show them.
Summer vacation time is part of what makes the story of each childhood magical. Once they catch on to the wonders of summer rather than wasting their days over endless video games, your kids will learn and play happily ever after (or at least all summer long).
How do you keep your kids active during the summer?