Sweet summertime. It can be such a magical time for children. After a few weeks, though, the newness wears off and boredom can set in. Before the “Mom, I’m bored” complaints start rolling in, take action and plan for some fun, productive activities to do with your kids. The kids will have a blast spending some time with you and just may learn something along the way!
Your kids have grown up hearing you talk about the importance of sharing with others and how giving is better than receiving. Use this summer as an opportune time to practice what you preach. Expand on the concept and take it outside your home. Find a charity the whole family can volunteer to serve, whether it’s for an afternoon or a weeklong mission trip. In addition to benefitting those helped by the charity, your kids will learn some very valuable lessons, as well. Volunteering has been proven to make the person serving feel good about themselves, be more appreciative of what they have, learn there are others much less fortunate, and understand the importance of acts of kindness. Check your local resources to learn about service opportunities in your area. Your kids may be surprised how many people in your own community could use a helping hand, whether it’s needing meals provided, shelter over their heads, or a particular service to help them meet their basic needs.
Get In the Kitchen
Take advantage of the long summer days, and teach your children how to cook. Learning to cook teaches a valuable life skill while also providing math, reading, science, and health lessons. Have them help read the recipes. Teach them how to read the measurements and then carefully follow them. Explain how heat changes a solid to a liquid. Discuss the nutrition benefits of the different ingredients and what constitutes a healthy meal. But don’t forget to make it fun for them! To get them started, consider starting with a sweet treat like caramel popcorn cookies, or perhaps chocolate covered raisin cookies. Once you have them hooked on cooking, they’ll want to come back into the kitchen every week. Start with sweets to draw them in, and build your way towards simple items they’ll be able to prepare on their own before you can blink an eye.
Explore Your Neighborhood
It’s easy to live in the same area for years without really exploring the plethora of resources available right in your own backyard. Do a little research and find out what’s near you. Most likely you’ll find some nature reserves, historic sites, and/or local farms. See if you can find some trails to explore or a nature center to investigate plants and animals. Perhaps you have ruins of an old mill, an old historic church, or a memorial of some sort. Go visit them and see what you can learn. Find a farm where you can see how we get milk and turn it into ice cream, pick your own produce, watch honey be made, or press cider.
Additionally, summer offers a few built in opportunities to teach your kids patriotism and honor those who have previously served our country (think Memorial Day and the 4th of July). Instead of just celebrating these holidays with a day off and fireworks, teach your children the meaning behind them. See if any of the local historic sites or cemeteries decorate and help place flags to honor fallen soldiers or help build a float for a parade.
Summer is meant to be a time of fun, rest, and relaxation. With some thoughtful planning, you can incorporate some productive learning, as well. You’ll all enjoy spending the quality time together, and you’ll have the added benefit of experiencing some new things.
About the Author: Hilary Smith has parlayed her love of technology and parenting into a freelance writing career. As a journalist, she specializes in covering the challenges of parenting in the digital age. She loves all things tech and hasn’t met a gadget that didn’t spark her interest. The Texas native currently resides in Chicago, IL and braves the winters with her two children, ages 4 and 7. @HilaryS33