School is out for summer break and there were a mix of emotions in our household on the last day of school, which ranged from excitement, happiness, stress relief, sadness, fear, and a few tears were even shed. For many kids not going to school, being able to relax and sleep in is a welcomed and much needed break. But for children with special needs or who come from hard places the lack of structure that comes with summer’s lazy days can be overwhelming or bring up feelings of insecurity. The structure and routine provided by a school day can help a child feel safe because they know what to expect. When that schedule is removed, they may have trouble adjusting and transitioning into a new (temporary) routine.
I’ve seen several messages from parents looking for summer activities to keep their kids busy so I decided to make a list of activities that may help you plan out your summer days.
- Summer reading programs – Most libraries have a summer reading program and planned activities for children of all ages usually at low to no cost. Incorporate reading or visits to the library into your weekly routine. As a family you could pick a book or series to read together over the summer. If you’re planning a vacation pick out audiobooks for long car or plane rides.
- Camps – There are a variety of day and overnight camps available during the summer. Camps are offered for sports, art, music, church and much more. Attending a camp is a great opportunity for your children to meet and play with children and participate in activities that are geared towards their ages and interests. Your family could also plan your own camping trip and sleep outside in a tent at a campground or even in your own back yard.
- Parks – Check out your local Parks & Recreations schedule for the summer. They often put on summer activities that are free or low cost. Try visiting different parks, explore hiking trails, playgrounds and more.
- Scavenger hunt – There are many printable scavenger hunts online or you can make your own. Then your children can have fun either collecting or taking pictures of all of the items on the list that they found.
- Board games – Board games or playing cards are a great activity for kids especially on rainy days! Some libraries, bookstores or comic bookstores host game-based events that you can attend. If you’re not into Dungeons and Dragons or Pokémon maybe a Disney or Harry Potter trivia night is more your speed! If they don’t have an event scheduled create your own event! Invite a few of your kids’ friends to meet up to play their favorite game.
- Get wet – On hot summer days kids often want to have an opportunity to cool off. Let your kids cool off with swimming in a local pool, playing at a splash park, running through sprinklers, or having a water gun or water balloon fight.
- Geocaching – Geocaching is a relatively new, real world, GPS guided search for treasures left behind by others. If you’re interested in learning more www.geocaching.com is one of the most popular sites for geocaching.
- Grow something – Plant a garden of fruits, vegetables, herbs or flowers. Then take turns watering them, watching them grow and keeping weeds and pesky bugs away. Last year we planted tomatoes and learned all about tomato Hornworm Caterpillars!
- Bake or cook something – Summers are a great time to fire up the grill or try a new recipe. You could even share the love by taking your neighbor some treats with homemade cards from the kids or take a meal to someone who recently adopted or is recovering from surgery.
- Learn a new skill – The summer is a great time to start learning something new such as knitting, a new language, a musical instrument, or sports skill. At the end of the summer host a showcase or performance demonstrating their new skill.
- Earn money – Let your child try their hand at entrepreneurship by starting a small company such as a lawn mowing service or run a lemonade stand. Or maybe they just learned to knit and want to sell all the potholders and scarves they made!
- Movies – Many cinemas have free summer movie programs. The parks departments also put on movies in the park or you check out a local drive-in!
- Exercise – Take advantage of the warm weather and get outside and get active. Go on a bike ride or hike a new trail. You may even want to schedule some daily exercise into your daily routine. Our family currently does Yoga every night together!
- Visit a senior – Many seniors living in nursing homes or assisted living facilities don’t have regular visitors and can feel isolated and lonely. Visiting regularly or even once over the summer can make an impact and brighten the day for older adults. Some facilities have visitation programs you can check into.
- Volunteer – Connect with your local homeless or animal shelter, soup kitchen, or thrift store and see if there are opportunities for your children to serve. There may even be opportunities closer to home for example you could pull weeds or mow the grass for a neighbor.
If all else fails let them be a little bored. Let them come up with something on their own to do.