Most kids look forward to summertime for most of the year. However, it usually isn’t far into the season before you start hearing those three dreaded words. You know the ones… “Mom, I’m bored.” Most kids need a little prompting to help them enjoy their summer experience. Here are five ways to get your kids focused and having fun when school is out.
Give Them Independence
All school year long, kids are instructed exactly where to go and what to do at nearly all hours of the day. They wake up, eat, and sleep on a strict timetable. While I don’t recommend throwing a schedule out the window entirely during the summer, I would suggest allowing kids space to explore on their own and set their own boundaries. You can do this by establishing a summer schedule that provides some regimen but also that needed time for kids to choose their own activities. This free printable schedule from I Can Teach My Child is perfect for hanging on the fridge and rearranging for the day’s activities. Even if you just choose to write the schedule on a piece of paper, the important part is including free time for your kids to make independent choices.
Most kids will appreciate the freedom you grant them during the summer months and use the time to their benefit — but some kids will choose to spend the summer performing activities that allow them to further disengage, like computer and video games. If this occurs, consider limiting their access to certain destructive gadgets. One creative approach to limiting screen time is using technology tokens like these available from Over the Big Moon.
Give Them Responsibility
Kids love to act like adults, which means they enjoy taking on responsibilities. Young children can find pleasure in even the most mundane chores: sweeping, dusting, tidying toys, and more. Though interest in simple chores may wane as a child grows, such responsibilities are important to a person’s early development. So it’s no wonder a plethora of different chore charts and systems are available online – most of them for free! For example, at Simply Kierste you can download a blank “Before You Can Play” chore list and customize it for your children.
Why not clean the house and teach your kids about helping others at the same time? Have your kids pile together all the toys they no longer play with, and involve them in cleaning out that cluttered garage you’ve been meaning to get to. They can learn about the different organizations that your old goods help benefit. For example, that old boat that has been collecting dust in your garage for the last couple of years can be donated to charity to help the local community. These responsibilities will easily keep your kids busy and engaged while completing a task of your own.
Let Them Be Creative
Summer provides plenty of opportunity for creativity, and that may include any of the following forms:
Visual. Paint, chalk, graphite, clay, fabric, papier mache, etc.
Verbal. Write stories, explain emotions, chronicle events, etc.
Physical. Dance, sing, act, perform magic, play an instrument, etc.
You may already know what form of art your kids do or do not enjoy, or a little experimentation may be in order to see what sticks. The internet is overflowing with fun, creative activities for kids of all ages, from making handprint watermelons to creating a photo journal of summer activities to putting on a show with handmade sea animal puppets.
Keep Them Learning
The summer slide is a phenomenon most parents and teachers know all too well. Most experts estimate that children lose at least two months of instruction during the summer, and teachers usually spend at least a month recapping information kids should already know. Yikes!
You can easily prevent the summer slide in your home by keeping your kids’ minds active throughout the break. This may not seem like the most exciting way to spend summer break for many kids; however, a little review each day can go a long way. You can also encourage interest with interactive activities, like short, fun quizzes or worksheets. For example, Lyndsey Kuster shares a downloadable summer packet for students entering second grade that includes reading, writing, and math review pages. She also shares links to free learning websites that offer engaging games and activities that review fundamental skills.
Ask for Feedback
Even more than independence, responsibility creativity, and knowledge, kids crave someone who will listen. It may seem like a no-brainer, but in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we as parents often fail to truly give our kids our undivided attention. We often “listen” to them while checking emails on our iPhones, making dinner, etc. So talk to your kids about their summer. Make time in your hectic schedule to sit down with your kids and listen to their wants and needs. One Time Through offers some guidelines for really listening to your kids.
I hope these jumping off points are helpful to your summer. What things do you do to help the summer go smoothly in your house?