Lazy, unstructured summers can lead to children spending too much time in front of the television or playing video games. Research shows that children can lose up to 60 percent of what they most recently learned over the course of the summer. Freedom from school obligations means that children also have more time to engage in unstructured, imaginative play or to create long-term projects that may keep them busy for days.
It’s important for parents to have a plan incorporating exercise and imagination to keep children’s minds and bodies active during the summer months, but it doesn’t have to break your budget.
Here are ten hot tips for a fun, active, and mentally stimulating summer:
1. Family Suggestion Box. A week or two before school lets out, sit down as a family. Decorate an old shoebox with stickers or pictures clipped from magazines. Cut a slot in the top and attach a pencil with a piece of string. Now sit down and brainstorm fun summer activities. Write the ideas on colorful slips of paper and put them in the box. Whenever boredom threatens, grab a “suggestion” from the box. Leave the box on the kitchen counter or dining room table along with a few extra slips of paper so children can add ideas whenever they think of them.
2. Let’s Pretend. Reading should be a normal part of every family’s life, and summer is no exception. Set aside an hour each day for “story time.” Reading can be a great way to jumpstart imaginative play. Instead of merely reading t...
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...t, spread a blanket and enjoy a meal outdoors. When night falls, unroll a sleeping bag and tell stories with a flashlight until you fall asleep.
10. Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt. Make a list of things your neighbors are likely to have on hand and unlikely to miss. Some suggestions: paper clips, clothespins, pencils or rubber bands. Or grab a clipboard and check off larger items without claiming them. Set out on a door-to-door excursion. Spend time with old friends and meet new ones while walking outside.
While it’s important to keep children mentally and physically challenged during the summer months, keep in mind that your children will only be young once. In other words, never forget the fun factor. Make sure that all activities are age-appropriate and properly supervised, and then let your imagination and theirs run wild in the quest to beat summer boredom.
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