Summertime can be full of trips to the pool, lazy days around the house, time with friends, and still be a great opportunity to help your kids keep learning even without school. Don’t let them turn off their brains. Provide ways to keep them sharp for school time with these great options. And maybe you can avoid hearing that summer whine of “Mooooom, I’m bored.”
Reading and Narrating
Make a weekly library trip with your kids, and let them pick out a stack of books to bring home. Designate a safe spot for all library reads–a basket by the door or a special shelf. Read out loud or let the kids read on their own, and ask questions about the story after they’ve read. Have them re-tell the story in their own words. Younger kids might also enjoy drawing a picture to illustrate the story they’re telling. Older kids might like writing their own version out.
Arts and Crafts
There are always lots of summer camps with abundant art and craft activities. Your own home can provide the same opportunity. Look around your home first, then hit the stores for art supplies such as crayons, markers, special paper, paints, oil pastels and stickers. Also get materials such as Popsicle sticks, yarn, miniatures, fabric scraps, pipe cleaners and beads. Build up a good variety, then set up a craft area. It can be a child-sized table, a dropcloth in the corner of the room, or an open space in the garage. Keep supplies handy, on a bench or shelf nearby, and add to the collection as you’re able with the stuff you might normally throw away, such as empty boxes and plastic containers, scraps of gift wrap, old clothes and paper towel tubes.
Help your kids keep their brains sharp with memorization during the summer. Read the same poem aloud every morning at breakfast for a week, then have a contest to see who can recite it with the most accuracy. Read about a particular subject for the week (get library books that match), such as the solar system or what frogs eat–whatever your kids are into–and then have a trivia night on the weekend. Depending on the ages of your children, you can do similar activities with book passages and famous speeches.
Include your kids in the projects you are working on over the summer, whether it is painting the garage or cleaning out the kitchen, growing some organic herbs or planning healthier meals. Talk to them about what you’re doing and why. Give them some responsibility in the project so they’re not just tagging along, but they are important to the process. Even very young children can help clean up, pull weeds, or help you find items in the grocery store. Older children can help even more, and learn important skills in the process.
Help with Money
Assign special summertime chores and set a payment amount on each one. As kids earn, talk to them about saving, spending and giving. Set up a simple plan with your kids for their summertime earnings–they get to save a portion, give a portion, and spend the rest. Or work with them to save up for a special purchase. You might donate some of the money once they save up a certain amount of what they’ve earned. You can also include kids on planning activities, trips, and meals for family fun in the summer. Older children can understand the basic concept of a budget when you explain it, and then help decide what’s more important for the day’s fun: another snack or another ride at the fair?