The summers of old
Gone are the days when summertime meant skipping in rain puddles, riding bikes up and down the street with friends for hours, or having a monumental pretend game of war in the back yard.
Jars of butterflies, lightning bugs, and tall glasses of lemonade were all staples of the dog days of summer. Summer was whimsical, magical and a time when kids were able to lie in the grass and stare up into the clouds creating imaginary figures and characters that fit their own internal fairy tales and adventures.
The modern day kid brain
Today, kids are tech savvy, quick thinkers looking to plug in that creative energy in any way that they can. As society has become more conscious of the ramifications of the “couch potato” summer agenda, parents are scrambling to find ways to keep kids entertained without going broke in the process.
Thinking of activities to keep them busy
While hitting the movie theaters, malls, or ice cream shops can be fun and take up some time, it is important to allow kids to unwind, explore, and tap into their creative energy during the summer months.
Fostering independent learners
Parents don’t always have the time to entertain kids all day long, nor should they. Learning to explore, imagine, and create independently is all a part of becoming a self-learner. Kids need this, thrive on it, and can gain an incredible amount of confidence by engaging in activities that allow them to stretch their imagination. Kids need to engage in activities that will take them places that they just never had time to explore during the school year.
Independence and creativity
The following are some summer activities that will allow children to engage in expansive ways independently:
- Puzzles – kids love puzzles. Having a puzzle going on a table that the whole family is working on can create family unity as well as increase concentration skills for kids.
- Build a fort – Blankets, blankets, and more blankets. Outside over the clothes line, indoors over a table, where ever……kids love building forts and creating adventures with friends and siblings. These forts/tents can be as elaborate as they want. Imaginations run wild!
- Paint with water – on the sidewalk, on a brick wall, or just about any place that water will leave a mark. Kids love creating murals wit h water.
- Sidewalk chalk – drawing designs on the sidewalks, streets, or even on the deck is an activity that kids of all ages enjoy. When the rain comes and washes it way, the canvas is clean and ready for the next creation!
- Clay sculptures – grab a tub of clay from the art store and let them create. You might be surprised when you see what your kids can create from some simple clay. You might just have a sculptor in your midst!
- Scavenger hunt – Send your kids on a scavenger hunt! Create a competition from it and turn them loose!
- A look into the future – Have your kids create a newspaper article featuring themselves as they imagine they will be in the future. The article should tell about the wonderful things that they have accomplished, the career that they are involved in, and should include a self-portrait of them in all of their greatness!
- Journaling – Have your children write a summer journal, talking about feelings and the experiences of each day. At the end of the summer, they will really enjoy reading about how their summer unfolded. For younger kids, parents could jot down thoughts as dictated by their little ones.
- Fun in the water – running in the sprinkler, with or without water balloons, is a great way to cool off, get in some exercise, and laugh all at the same time.
When there is a grown up handy to join the fun, kids can:
- Tie dye – t-shirts, shorts, sheets, or whatever can be a fun and creative way to spend an afternoon out of the heat.
- Make some slime! There are multiple recipes on the internet and kids just love this stuff!
**Speaking of recipes……cooking classes are amazing! Kids love to be helpful in the kitchen. Kids who grow up cooking with their parents tend to grow into adults who love the creative outlet of the culinary arts.
- Go rock hunting with your kids – finding beautiful and unique rocks, rock painting, and rock hiding are new activities that kids are always up for.
- Make some money – give kids jobs to do to help them make some money. Set goals and help them reach them by completing various chores for their own family and for neighbors.
- Volunteer work – help kids to understand the importance of community, contribution, and helping others. Find ways within the community that kids can help out with things like assisting the elderly, walking dogs, cleaning up trash or even helping a shelters. Learning the value of altruism at a young age can set the stage for children to become more compassionate individuals for the years to come.
Keep it simple, keep them busy
Summers can be stressful, long, and irritating when kids are left to figure out the days on their own. Our children are hyper stimulated throughout the school year these days as standardized testing, increased technology, and higher learning standards are compressed into them more each day. When the summer arrives, it takes some time for them to unwind and become self-directed when entertaining themselves. Helping kids to tap into their own creativity, giving them time and space to stretch themselves, and allowing them to explore unhindered are all ways that parents can keep them busy while allowing them to build character and confidence over the summer months. Independently or with parents, kids deserve to take the summer month to just be!
Enjoy this summer with your kids!!