Does summer time make you nervous? Are you overwhelmed trying to think of ways to keep your child busy while also continuing to stimulate him or her creatively, intellectually, socially? No matter your child's age, developmental level, strengths and weaknesses, it is important to take advantage of the flex time away from school for some fun activities, but let's not forget to incorporate some learning while we're having our summer fun. We definitely don't want our kids regressing after all their hard work in therapies and at school.
1. Summer Camps
Nowadays, you can find summer camps galore in most areas! The trick is finding one that not only meets the needs of working parents, but also provides a lot of options for creativity and learning. Here are my top picks for camps in my area: Orange County, CA. If you don't reside in the OC, these should give you a good idea of where to start and what to look for:
2. Family Adventures
Our family loves camping and taking road trips. Your family might enjoy taking a day to go to the zoo or aquarium. Wherever it is you choose to go, try to involve the kids in making the plans. Show them maps, watch videos, make lists of items needed for the trip. It helps build excitement and makes it more fun for the kids. Teach them a little history about the place you're headed. Maybe there's a cultural lesson that might stimulate some great discussion, and create more vivid memories.
3. Play Dates
Keeping in touch with friends over the summer can be really important. For my kids, it has been much more important than ever! They started a new school mid year, so not only are play dates a way for them to keep in touch with their best friends from their old school, but it's also a great way to get to know their new friends even better. Here are some activities we've done on play dates:
picnics at the park
lunch at a fun restaurant
4. Projects and Experiments
One summer, all my 6 year old son wanted to do was make slime. We watched slime videos on Youtube, and he memorized at least 10 recipes. Yes, he tends to obsess about one thing for a month or so, and there's nothing else he'd rather talk about...but we were able to turn this obsession into a summer-long experiment. He (and I too) learned what an "activator" was and how so many common household products contained activators. He was a little scientist! We talked about textures, how colors could be mixed to make other colors, and how to store them once complete. Later his sister joined in and learned that if she added lotion to older slimes/doughs, they would become less dried out and more moldable. We all become slime-experts by the end of the summer.
Art projects have been another great activity for my kids. We love painting on canvases, and making beaded jewelry. Sometimes we all help build a large puzzle, or start a new collection of shells, rocks etc.
Here are some other great summer projects and experiment ideas:
5. Volunteering/Charity Project
With less hectic schedules, the summer might be a great time to teach your kids about helping others. We've often moved around this time of year, which leads to us going through and getting rid of stuff. Many times, this also means we takes loads of clothes and toys that the kids have outgrown to a near thrift shop or shelter. It's become such a habit, that my kids often create piles/bags of things they plan to give away, once they're tired of an item or have outgrown it.
Around our communities, there are plenty of opportunities to teach our children about helping those less fortunate. Your kids can learn about a local charity or organization they might enjoy volunteering some hours at, like a food bank, animal shelter, homeless shelter, kids' church camp, and more. Those of you who have older kids, why not teach them about helping kids who are younger than them, by offering babysitting or tutoring.
MOST OF ALL ...Have fun! Whatever you decide to do this summer, just have fun together... build happy memories!