It’s that time of the year, the children have either begun summer vacation or are counting down the days until they escape the confines of the classroom. As a parent and a teacher, I understand. I’m counting down the days before I’m free to focus on other things during the summer. However, as all moms know, soon that freedom turns into boredom and whining and complaining, and you’re all to happy to send the kids back to school! How can you plan to engage your kids this summer?
1. Find locations you can hangout at for the day
Around here, we have the ocean beaches, river banks, lake, and creeks to go relax. The kids and I have lazied away many summer afternoons on the shore of Floras Creek. While the kids played in the water, I drew, read a book, or just soaked up the sun. I miss those days; with the kids growing older, we’ve not had a lazy afternoon at the creek in over two summers! You might not have a creek to go to, but you can hangout at the swimming pool, park, or other location. Take a lunch, a snack, sunscreen and have fun.
2. Check out the summer program at the library
Our family hasn’t taken full advantage of the summer programs in our areas, but I know they include reading incentives, crafts, prizes, and guest speakers. Librarians spend many hours planning how to help your child engage and learn. Besides, who doesn’t want their child enjoying a good book?
3. Go camping
I remember many nights growing up that we went camping, but not in the normal sense of the word. We grabbed old blankets, threw them over the clothesline, and made a tent. During the day, it was our play house, and at night, we slept out under the stars. Some of my kids’ favorite memories are camping in Ashland, Oregon. Find a place that has a little something for everyone to enjoy and try it out. Then make it a tradition.
4. Join a club
My sister-in-law and her boys are heavily involved in Boys Scouts, while my backyard has two lambs in it for 4-H fair. Over the years, my kids have participated in 4-H several times. My youngest’s first entered a Lego creation in fair when he was four or five years old. The older kids had photography, drawings, and other projects in 4-H. 4-H enables your child to explore and learn many skills they wouldn’t normally have access to.
5. Help in a community garden
I remember one year growing up when we participated in a garden. It was so fun to watch the plants grow and then be able to eat the produce. I don’t have a green thumb; in fact, I’ve killed a cactus! However, I appreciate those who can plant a seed, water it, weed around it, nurture the fledgling plant, and bring fruit to bear.
6. Sign up for a class
Our local art gallery often has art classes for kids. The dance studio has special classes in the summer as well. You may want to try something different. One year, we joined a martial arts dojo. It became a staple for the next couple of years until our Sensai moved and I had a baby. (Yep, I actually tested for a rank at eight months pregnant.) When I write a fight scene, I draw from my experiences in Aikido.
What are your ideas for keeping sane through the summer? Need some more ideas? Check out my blog post from last year.