Once school lets out for the summer, kids are always looking for something fun, interesting, or creative to do. After all, there are only so many TV reruns to watch and video games to play before the "I’m bored!” cries begin. Even in the summer, parents still have time to encourage their kids to do something special (and maybe even a little educational) this year.
Dr. Rick Bavaria, Senior Vice President of Education Outreach for Sylvan Learning, suggests ways to inspire some memorable fun this summer and keep children learning in the process. Sylvan Learning is North America’s leading provider of in-center and live, online tutoring at home to students of all ages, grades, and skill levels.
Put on a play or concert and enhance creativity. Kids love to show off their talents. If you have an aspiring actor or musician in the family, suggest she get together with other performer-friends to entertain families or neighbors. Kids can write their own short plays from their favorite books—Amelia Bedelia books make for fun, silly plots—or Google “short plays for kids” for other ideas. If your kids are musicians, they can choose their favorite selections or write their own songs. If they’re really lucky, they can do both, and put on a musical!
Help a neighbor and develop caring and responsible values. Many neighbors in your community would greatly appreciate some help around the house, in the yard, with the shopping, walking pets, washing cars, or with errands. An hour or two a week allows your child to be helpful and gives your neighbor some assistance and company.
Start a book club and sharpen reading skills. If your kids have been given a summer reading list, they’ll have an easier time of it if they work with study buddies. Invite their friends over for reading and discussion followed by pizza, swimming, or a movie. For a list of recommended summer reading, visit www.sylvanlearning.com.
Start a new sports team and learn research skills. Kids are always interested in the new and unusual. Find a safe sport that isn’t on your school’s physical education curriculum—windsurfing, sailing, bocce—and help your kids learn about it, try it, and have fun with it.
Hike a hundred miles and teach perseverance and writing skills. What says summer more than trekking through the woods? Set a distance goal, and go for it! Even if you’re not near nature trails or green forests, measure a few routes around your neighborhood and hike away a couple of times a week. An inexpensive pedometer and a “hiking journal” let you keep track of your progress. Include descriptions of new things you discovered, whom you walked with, what you talked about, what songs you sang, and maybe even some clever drawings.
Make a movie and sharpen writing and leadership skills. It’s easier to become a “junior filmmaker” these days, thanks to inexpensive cameras and computer programs that help develop creativity and imagination. Kids can write their own scripts, rewrite scenes from favorite movies, create new endings for those films, or dramatize episodes from favorite books.
Do some gardening and learn geometry, botany, and working within a budget. Organize a small plot of yard for flowers, plants, or vegetables. At the library or online, help kids research gardens and gardening techniques. Give them an allowance for seeds. Help them design the plot, nurture it, and reap the benefits.
Exhibit paintings or photographs and boost creativity, writing and social skills. Every child has an artistic streak. Encourage kids to draw, use pastels, watercolor, or paint. Or take photos of friends, games, pets, flowers, neighbors, events, or hikes. Put the photos in a hard-copy album or post online to share with others. Add captions: “My friends and I had a great time at the pool on the Fourth of July. Here we are swimming, having a barbecue, and watching the fireworks. It was awesome!”
Play marathon board games and encourage logical thinking. Once or twice a summer, it’s fun to have a game marathon. Choose your game: Monopoly®, Scrabble®, Clue®, cribbage. Invite friends over, serve snacks, laugh a lot. Take a few pictures for the summer journal.
There are so many other ideas, adds Dr. Bavaria. Your main purpose, of course, is to keep your kids’ minds and bodies active, their social skills keen, and their summer enjoyment high. Memories are made this way!
Parents looking for additional resources can visit the Parent Resources section at www.sylvanlearning.com.
For more articles on summer fun, check out these from NYMetroParents.com:
Summer Trip Pep Talk for Kids
Cheap Ways to Keep the Family Entertained During Three-Day Weekends
Five Summer Getaways Every Child Should Experience