Keeping your kids occupied during the summer isn’t difficult or expensive. You just have to be creative.
“Summer learning loss” is a real phenomenon that can widen the gap between kids who already are lagging behind, and watching television or playing video games doesn’t help.
“Kids lose what they have learned over summer when they are not being active and actively involved in brain-enriching activities,” Austin, TexAs, independent school district pre-k teacher Nina Ortega says. “As a teacher, when I return to school, I feel completely exhausted the first month just getting into the swing of things. So you can imagine the kids — because we have them jump right into their learning.”
She adds that activities don’t need to be anything “super fancy,” but just an organized group of kids that come together to interact and learn characteristics that help them as they grow.
activities can also be centered around a parent, a child, and a list of things to do that encourage movement.
Look for summer opportunities in your community that promote learning, physical activity, and healthy eating, says the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA). “Ask specific questions about the learning and physical activities, as well as food available throughout the day for your child,” the NSLA says. “Ask your child’s teacher or school for recommended summer activities that incorporate health with learning.”
Encourage your child to go outside and play, and be active with your child by taking walks or shooting some hoops at a local basketball court. The time spent together is just as valuable.
Take advantage of local recreation centers and pools, playgrounds, parks, sporting fields, and community centers. Many park districts offer a wide range of organized activities throughout the summer, from martial arts to arts and crafts.
Books can be your kid’s best friends. Ask your child’s teacher or school librarian for a summer reading list. Join a reading program or group at the local library. Take a book to the pool. Set aside a specific time to read together.
Otherwise, ideas for activities are like daisies. They pop up everywhere. Many websites have long lists of specific suggestions, so long you could never complete everything included.
Here’s just one from Lifehack: make your own games with colored cards, scissors and glue; plan a once-a-week cooking or baking day; make an obstacle course in the backyard and time one another; build a garden patch (if your kids are little, just give them a shovel, dress them in old clothes, and let them go wild in the dirt); go camping or on picnics; have a treasure hunt; create a summer diary or make a movie.
There’s painting, jewelry making, sketching, swimming, nature walks, and play dates.
Remember, activities your kids participate in during the summer break will give them a head start on the next school year.
June 10, 2016
Janet O’Dell, RN