9 Ways to Make Sure Your Kids Don’t Waste Away the Summer
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The rigors of the school year are about to be a distant memory for millions of students. They’ll be cheering — for about a week. And then they’ll likely be bored and their parents will be at wits’ end.
To help your youngsters stave off boredom and even the loss of skills they’ve worked hard to gain during the school year, here are nine ways to make the summer months count.
Visit the great outdoors
Odds are there’s a great national or state park near your hometown. And odds are you’ve never been to it (haven’t we all been to cool far-flung locations but never gotten around to the ones nearby?). Make this the summer you take a few days with your children and introduce them to the beauties of nature. Hike, learn a bit about plants and animals, take photos and breathe in the fresh air.
Start or join a summer reading club
Many libraries have summer reading programs for young students. If your local library has one, go regularly and participate. If not, start an informal group with some friends, setting goals and milestones and creating a simple reward system for achieving them.
Pile on the arts
Make summer a time to supplement your children’s education with trips to art museums, tickets to musical performances (ever been to the opera or ballet?) or a summer dance class. Oftentimes, the city recreation center offers art classes to teach or hone skills.
Get ready for fall sports
Without P.E. classes or their school-year sports, your otherwise physically active children might tend toward being couch potatoes over the summer. Help them resist the lure of screens and be even better prepared for their fall sports by enrolling them in a camp or Salt Lake Regional Medical Center’s Acceleration Program. It provides eight weeks of personalized, individual training that’s sport-specific with the sports medicine and personal trainers at SLRMC.
“This is a great way to help your kids stay active and stay in shape over the summer, and if anyone’s looking to improve skills in a certain sport, this program will help you be better no matter what sport it is,” says physical therapist Adam Kershaw, MPT, OCS. “We even have some parents who do the program with their kids.”
If you’ve been injured and run out of physical therapy visits, or if you’d just like to have a program to help you get into better condition, you can do the program with your child.
“It’s challenging and can be a good bonding experience. It’s a win-win,” Kershaw says.
Teach cooking skills
Declare it OK to make a mess in the kitchen once a week. Ask your children what they’d like to learn to cook and then do it. Shop for ingredients, get out all the necessary utensils, pans and bowls and guide them in creating a culinary masterpiece.
If you have older children, make a vacation productive by incorporating college visits into places you already hope to travel to, or pick a couple of favorite potential universities and plan a vacation around one of those areas.
Do service projects
Sure, you can take the kids on vacation and come up with fun activities for them all summer, but having them get out and do something for someone else will help them remember it’s not all about them. Volunteering in various ways can teach them valuable lessons. Abby Hays, writing for U.S. News & World Report Money, suggested that “older kids can even plan, shop for and make a meal for ill or elderly neighbors or the couple down the street with a new baby and no time to cook.”
Encourage your children to do extra projects around the house or yard and create clear goals for what needs to be completed. When you pay them for each finished job, take the time to show them how to use their money, splitting it up into envelopes for saving, donating and spending. Help them choose a charity they’d like to donate to, and take them shopping for the spending portion.
Try new games
Go old-school and pull out the board games. Try a new one as a family each week. Or show them a fun outdoors game you played as a youngster, such as Kick the Can or Capture the Flag. They’ll get a little exercise, use different parts of their brain and stay away from electronics for a little while.