Are you a stay-at-home parent? Do you work from a home office and keep the kids with you when school is out? Are you wondering how this summer is going to go and feeling overwhelmed? If so, you are not alone. This post is full of ideas for keeping kids busy this summer.
Attend a Summer Camp
Whether it is a sleep away camp or a day camp, summer camps can be an excellent way to keep your kiddos engaged and learning this summer. Attending summer camp provides your child with experiences they won't soon forget and there are many other benefits as well. Take a look at your schedule and see what fits. You may find something that can last the whole summer long or you can just pick a week or two here and there. Kwaddle can help you find the best summer camps for your child. All you need to do is enter your locality and your child's interests and you will find oodles of camp options. We recently launched our new site and it is better than ever.
Your child doesn't need to be an Olympian, but some simple swim strokes can come in handy. More importantly, though, swimming lessons keep our children safe. My children have all taken swimming lesson since they were five and I am so thankful I did this. I can confidently take my children to the pool and not have to worry about them struggling to keep their heads above water. I want to know that they can swim safely. All that aside, swimming is such a fun summer actively. When the Texas sun is high in the sky, the pool is a super fun way for the kids to cool off. Businesses such as Equipped Aquatics provide great classes for children of all ages. Be sure to check them out!
Summer Reading Programs
One great way to prevent the "summer slide" is to keep kids' noses in books. Many schools and libraries have summer reading programs that include fun activities and incentives for kids to keep reading. Setting reading goals with your child will improve their reading abilities and helps them form healthy reading habits from a young age. Adding library visits to your summer schedule is a fun way to teach kids about the value of reading. Reading is also a perfect idea for keeping kids busy if you still have a napping baby in the house. Older kids can have quiet time to read while baby sleeps or you could have your older kiddo read to your younger ones. This gives you a little break to take care of adult matters even if the only thing that matters is a little peace and quiet.
Keep a Journal
Have your kiddos keep a summer journal! When everyone goes back to school, the first question teachers and friends ask is "what did you do all summer?" Journaling not only helps with memory recall and documenting fun times, but it is also a healthy way for kids to write down their feelings about certain situations. Maybe they had a play date with Johnny and Johnny threw a stone at your child. Your child may very well write down the Johnny made him really mad by throwing the stone. This is a really good use of writing skills and can also provide some handwriting practice.
Summer chores! I know. What a downer. But, they really are helpful. They teach responsibility and can really be a help to keep the family in a routine. I love this chore chart. It tells you what chores are appropriate for what age group. My children, for example, already have chores. They make their beds daily, pick up their rooms daily, set and clear the table at mealtimes, empty the dishwasher and they wash, fold, and put away all of their laundry. My girls are ten and my older son is eight. I'm so thankful that I got them to start doing these things early because it is a huge help to me. Have a family meeting and explain your expectations. If need be, make a sticker chart or white board and check things off once they are accomplished. You'll be glad you did.
I know it is hot, but when the heat isn't too overbearing, kids need to spend time outside. Send them on a scavenger hunt. Give them a bucket of sidewalk chalk and let them "paint the town." Host a "Wacky Water Day" in your neighborhood. Install a swing set. Buy a soccer goal or other sports equipment to help your teen improve their game. We already know that playing and exercising is good for our physical and emotional health so get those kids outside.
Plant a Garden
This has become a highlight for my family each summer. We plant a small garden and then the kids help take care of it and harvest the goodies it produces. Our strawberry patch is my particular favorite. My older son loves strawberries and he literally goes out every morning to gather what is ready to be picked. Not only is this a fun, educational activity for him, but it is also 100% organic and I don't have to wonder what chemicals were sprayed on them. The kids get the opportunity to help cook the food we harvest as well.
TV, Tablets, & Phones, Oh My!
For many of our kids, television, tablets, and phones act as amazing babysitters for all ages. As I write this, my youngest is playing a game on his LeapPad. While many parents are declaring war on electronics, there are times when using these devices for keeping kids busy can be a good thing. Allowing your children time to use educational apps and communicate with friends is an appropriate way to strengthen reading and writing skills. You can take it even further and enroll your child into a coding camp and then let them practice the skills they've learned. While their time on electronics should be limited to two or three hours per day, those hours can certainly be used for good.
Learn a New Language
At our local school district, our students don't have the opportunity to learn a foreign language until they reach Junior High. However, if you do some simple research about language acquisition, it doesn't take long to realize that our children will learn foreign languages much more efficiently if they begin hearing them at a very young age. Regardless of how old your child is, learning a new language is definitely something all parents can help their kiddos do. Whether you get books, flashcards, or download applications such as Mango Languages on your devices, any exposure is helpful. Hearing the new language on a regular basis is the key.
My father, who is bilingual, always said that learning a second language increases your IQ by ten points. While he isn't a scientist, but rather a well read vat of useless knowledge), there is plenty of research that proves lots of benefits relating to learning a second (or third) language. Check out this article by New York Behavioral Heath for more info on that.
I've had the privilege of seeing this happen first hand. As I've shared before, our younger daughter is adopted from Haiti. When she came home a little over six months ago, she might have known three to five English words. Now, we believe she understands about 50% of what we say and can hold broken conversation in English. Better yet, she has retained much of her native language as well.
Playground Play Dates
This is something that I am excited to try to this summer. One day each we will be "Play Date Day." We will choose a local playground each week and invite our friends to meet us there via social media. The one thing that my kids miss most over summer is their friends. Playground Play Dates are an easy way for them to reconvene and have some summer fun with their friends. Not to mention, it tires them out. Play filled mornings make for calm afternoons. Oh the bliss... Don't forget sunscreen and water though.
Dollar Store for Dinner
This is another activity that I am super excited about. I didn't need to be on Pinterest very long before I stumbled across the Dollar Store Meals section. Have the kids select a few different recipes to choose from and then give them a budget. Jump in the car and head to the dollar store in your area. Have them compare prices and pick up all the ingredients to make the meal. Whichever meal they can get all in the ingredients for within their budget is what you will have for dinner. If you want to take it one step further, you can even have the kids comb through coupons to save money.
After returning home, supervise while they prepare dinner. Depending on your children's ages, you may need to assist more than supervise. Regardless, this is a great opportunity for teaching meal preparation, measurements, and cooking safety. This can also be a great money saving tip that could potentially help pay for summer camp programs. No need to eat out when you have some little chefs at home.
Routines are Key
One of the most beneficial things that has helped get me through the summer is routine. Come up with a daily and weekly schedule and then follow it. Try to keep a balance of fun and educational activities when keeping kids busy this summer. Include some tasks like chores or helping others that will contribute to both your home life or community. Your kiddos might not love that at first, but once you explain how it helps everyone, they might find it more enticing. Kids thrive off of routine because it keeps them from wondering or worrying about what is happening next. It is totally okay to throw some exciting surprises or trips in there, but for the most part, it should be a structured schedule.
Our daily schedule looks like this:
Wake up - 9am: Breakfast, lounge, TV
9 - 10am: Chores/Garden/Laundry
10 - 11am: Play Inside (No Electronics)
11 - 12:30pm: Play outside
12:30pm - Lunch
1 - 3pm: Nap or Quiet time (reading or school books)
3 - 5pm: Free choice
Our weekly schedule looks like this:
Monday: Library Day
Tuesday: Playground Play Dates Day
Wednesday: Wacky Water Day
Thursday: Stay Home
Friday: Pool Day
We hope some of these ideas work for you. Tell us how you plan on keeping your kids busy this summer. We love to hear from you!