As the school year wraps up, parents often worry about the long summer days and the inevitable pleas of boredom. Without the structure and rushing of the school year, you have several hours to fill. Fortunately, many communities offer a wide range of summer activities if you know where to look. Kids also benefit from solo time in the summer. A little boredom can inspire your child to create new games and activities. Planning ahead and slowing down to enjoy the freedom of summer keeps you on track for making memories.
Write a summer checklist of activities you want to do with the kids. Get them involved in making the list. Include a mix of major events, like family vacations or holiday plans, and everyday activities, such as looking at the stars, going to a drive-in movie or visiting a new park. Check off the activities as you do them. The checklist gives you ideas when you're bored and encourages the family to stay active.
Plan any vacations you will take with the kids, whether it's a weeklong excursion or a short weekend getaway. Planning ahead for your vacations allows you to find the best spots at the destination to maximize the entertainment. Account for down time after you return from summer vacation so your family can recuperate.
Sign your kids up for swimming lessons. Most public pools and many privately owned pool facilities offer Red Cross swimming lessons during the summer months. The lessons typically last two weeks, so your child gets to splash in the pool every day while learning to swim. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that children should learn to swim to reduce drowning risks.
Sign your child up for a summer camp experience. If you can't afford a full week sleepover camp, check for local day camps through national organizations such as Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, community centers, parks and recreation departments or local attractions, such as zoos or children's museums.
Decide on local attractions you want to visit this summer with your kids. It's easy to overlook the historical sites, natural areas or tourist attractions in your own city because you hear about them so often. Revisit spots you haven't seen in a while, or check out lesser-known attractions within driving distance.
Mark free kids' events on your calendar as a reference when you need something to do. Libraries and community centers often host play dates, story times and similar kid-centered activities. If you have a children's museum or zoo nearby, check the list of summer events. Summer is also a time for festivals and fairs that offer affordable entertainment.
Opt for a membership to local attractions so you can visit often in the summer. A membership at a zoo, children's museum or public pool is often much cheaper than paying admission if you plan to visit more than a few times. You often get additional perks, such as members-only events or discounts at the gift shop.
Set up play dates with neighbors or friends who have kids. If you don't know any other families with kids, look for a local play group. These informal groups schedule regular play dates around the city. You get a chance to explore your community while making new friends.
Schedule downtime at home so your child learns she doesn't always have to be doing something exciting. Let her play independently and find her own entertainment. If you constantly entertain your child, she never learns to be self-sufficient and misses out on opportunities to be creative.
Spend lots of time outdoors with your child. The weather is ideal for playing outdoor games, exploring nature, riding bikes or just being outside. Playing outdoors encourages your child to be active, which helps her stay healthy.
Things You Will Need
- Activities checklist
- Vacation brochures
- Swimming lesson brochures
- Summer camp brochures
- Local visitor's guide
- Membership to local attractions
- Local maps
- Weekly schedule
- Outdoor toys
Spread out the major forms of entertainment throughout the summer. For example, don't book your family vacation right after your child finishes summer camp. Not only will your child be exhausted, she may find the rest of the summer boring in comparison.
Create a general schedule for your summer days. You might go to the pool every Monday, do a craft on Tuesday, visit the library on Wednesday, have play dates on Thursday and relax at home on Friday, for example. This gives you some structure without over-scheduling your summer days.