It’s summer! What does that mean for you and your family?
Summer is a time to regroup, reconnect, and redirect your child’s mind toward positivity. Healthy summer activities can protect your child’s self esteem, interest in learning, and his or her relationship with you.
For many families, summer isn’t always about fun and relaxation. It’s often far too easy to allow boredom, chaos, and/or stress take over during summer!
You don’t want to have another argument or debate about putting down the iPad, getting ready in time for a family gathering, or putting a stop to the sibling rivalry. Try these easy, engaging summer activities that will entertain your children while also enriching their minds.
1. Activities around the house
Here are a few ideas of great summer activities for days at home:
You can read together, have a water “fight” in the yard after washing the car or the dog, make s’mores, sing along to Disney favorites while folding laundry, have a fashion show (and get rid of old, unworn clothes in the process), build a fort in the living room and play board games inside, make a picnic lunch together, make dinner together and let your child experiment with recipes, play music together (or learn an instrument together), recap the highs and lows from the day while washing the dishes together, have a “spa day” and give each other manicures, or make home-made popsicles.
With half of these options, you’ll be turning household chores into a fun way to spend time with your child. Can you come up with a few more of your own?
Objective: Connection. Making the simple things fun for your child will both reduce daily stress and build healthy habits. The best way to make daily activities fun is for your goal to be connecting with and learning about your child. You won’t have to work hard to make the moment special because your children crave connection with you.
2. Play dates away from home
Even if a beach day or a trip to the movies isn’t your style, there are plenty of ways to enjoy getting out of the house during the summer.
Ride your bicycles around the neighborhood, visit a park and play on the swings together, find a basketball court and shoot some hoops, visit a museum with age-appropriate exhibits, find a hiking trail, attend a live theatre show, have an ice cream party for friends, take a camping trip, have a frozen yogurt date, draw sidewalk chalk art for everyone to enjoy, visit a car show or air show, attend a live concert (your kid’s favorite band?, visit a book store (and put encouraging notes in books for strangers to find), start a habit of walking together for 30 min after dinner, etc.
The best place to start when finding ideas to expand your child’s horizons is to notice what he or she is already interested in and build upon that.
Summer activities are even better when shared with a friend. Since you’re getting more done at home with the help of the kids, you’ll have more time to spend relaxing and enjoying the company of both your kids and your friends. Schedule a day or an afternoon with a family friend, when both of you can bring the kids along. If your short on friends with similar-aged children, search for a group on http://www.MeetUp.com, or throw a casual BBQ and ask each friend to bring another friend with kids. I’m all for shameless parent networking!
Objective: Keep up the social skills, for both your children and for you. It’s important for your child’s development that he or she interacts with other children for play (not just at school). If your child struggles with connecting to other children, summer is the perfect time to look more closely at this and determine if social anxiety or low self-esteem might be impeding your child’s relational abilities.
Plus, you’ll get a break from work and/or household responsibilities and have some positive stress-reduction time, either by yourself or with a friend and fellow parent.
3. Start a summer project
Do some research alongside your child to find a way to get inspired. Maybe he or she wants to build something (anything from a model car, to a home computer, to a treehouse). Other options include starting a garden or organizing a car wash or other fundraiser. Be excited and engaged so as to get your child’s imagination working.
A project requires planning and collaboration – which is a good thing. Allow your children to do most of the work, and stay available for brainstorming when they get stuck. For an only child, she or he can ask a friend to be involved, and will also build leadership skills by involving others in his or her planning.
Objective: Mind-body connection and enhanced creativity to promote learning. Your child will learn about how to do something and see the result of hard work. Physical activity can help your child’s brain form and increases self-esteem. Your child will build a sense that he or she is capable and will be inspired to learn new things in the future.
These summer activities give you more than just a plan for the day. You’ll find that the whole summer will be more peaceful and enjoyable if you plan ahead and prioritize connection with you, with peers, and with your child’s sense of self.
If you have concerns about your child’s ability to connect socially, disconnect electronically, or otherwise manage his or her level of stress, please reach out for help. Now is the perfect time to address any potential concerns and prepare for a successful school year.
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