Is school out for the summer yet where you live? Now that my kids have graduated, I’ve lost track of those kinds of things, but I can remember looking forward to the last day of school just as much as the kids did. It’s wonderful to have such beautiful weather ahead of you, and not much to do. It’s great (and very therapeutic, I think) to get away from all the schedules and busyness that we have during the school year, not to mention the freedom from having to worry about completing assignments and turning them in on time.
At some point, though, you’re going to hear it: “I’m bored. There’s nothing to do.” If you have a kid with Attention Deficit Disorder, you’ll probably hear that sooner rather than later.
I know that some parents don’t believe in “entertaining” their kids, and insist that they find their own amusement. I agree with that, up to a point. I think it’s in your own best interests (and your child’s) to provide at least some activities to keep them occupied, and then give them some free time to do what they want (within reason, of course). I also think that if you put some thought into it, you can sneak in a little education while you’re at it.
Here are some of my favorite ideas from summers past:
- Send them to camp. It can be scout camp, church camp, day camp, sleep away camp, whatever. In my neighborhood both when I was growing up and when my kids were younger, the city Parks and Recreation Department sponsored camp for a few hours each day during the week. It’s a good opportunity for your kids to meet new people and maybe make some new friends.
- If you’ve got the energy, make camp at your house. Pretend you’re hosting a real camp, and come up with related activities for a week or two. Start with a theme, and the rest will be easy.
- Go camping. If you’ve never tried it, you should, at least once. I didn’t think I was the camping type, but I loved it once I gave it a try. The kids have a blast, and really, life seems so much easier camping than it does at home. The first time we went camping, I rented a log cabin from the state park for the weekend. The cabin slept 20 people, and I think it cost us less than $50.00. Check out your state parks for similar deals.
- Find a theme for the summer, and then structure activities around it – a little or a lot, depending on how much you want to do. You could travel the world this summer, using a map, library books, and your imagination. You could make food from each country, learn the language, and find out about local customs. Your theme could be space, or under the sea, or whatever your kids are interested in.
- Stay up late at least once, and check out the stars. Got a planetarium near you? Add that in, or maybe just some books. There is a series of books, called “Stikky” books that are really great for learning things like this.
- Read a really good book together, even if they can read for themselves. We spent a summer when my older ones were 10 & 11 reading Treasure Island and they loved it. I always read to my kids before they went to sleep. (When I told my oldest two that they were going to have a baby brother or sister, their reaction was “Now we get 3 stories at night instead of 2!”)
- Plant a garden. Most kids enjoy digging in the dirt, and they’ll be excited to see things actually growing. Keep weeding chores to a minimum if you want to maintain the enthusiasm.
- Write some letters. It could be to anyone they want, and for any reason. Maybe to the grandparents, asking what they used to do all summer, or to cousins far away (or across town). I’ve got a great memory about this that I’ll share next time.
- Learn a new skill. It could be something useful, like learning to cook, or something totally silly, like learning to juggle. One summer, my son and his friend learned to jump into their shoes from the third step on the stairs. Useful when you’re friends are outside and you’re trying to get there as quickly as possible.
- Make art. Get out the scissors, the glue, the paint, and all the rest and turn them loose. The great thing about summer is you can put the kids outside at the picnic table or on the grass and let them get as messy as they want. Clean up is way easier! Experiment with different mediums, too. Don’t limit yourself to traditional art supplies. Make pictures with pudding, or flavored powdered drink mixes and a spray bottle. I once had a friend whose daughter made a lovely card for her dad with a banana peel glued to it.
Those are some of the ideas I’ve got for summertime fun. Next time, I’ll tell you about the summer we wrote 100 letters.