As the last weeks of the school year end, a new realization is cropping up in families across the country. Parents and kids alike are facing the “What do I do now?” dilemma, especially with a long summer stretching ahead. Here are some suggestions for free or low cost things to keep your kids from feeling bored. Have fun, be safe, make some great memories, and have a terrific summer by trying out some of the following ideas.
- How long has it been since your last visit to the public library? Library programming has expanded in many towns, especially with more emphasis on making resources available during these times when everyone is more aware of their budget. Not only can you and the kids borrow books, movies, and music, but many libraries also have special programs for school-age kids over the summer. Details about reading clubs, crafts, demonstrations, discussion groups, and more can be found by contacting your local library.
- Specialty day camps, workshops, and classes can be found at community colleges, arts organizations, scouting groups, and similar sponsors. Look for short-term sessions (one-day to two-week programs) focusing on sports, music, science, fine arts, camping, and other themes. Not only is this a great way for the kids to have a chance to learn some new skills, but it’s also a path to making new friends who share similar interests.
- Do you remember the last time your family went on a field trip? Whether it’s a half-day excursion to a county park for outdoor games and a picnic lunch, or a full day visit to a nearby city, family field trips can be fun for everyone. Some ideas for interesting places to visit include historic homes, museums, gardens, a minor league baseball game, a beach or lake, and a farmer’s market. Plan your trip together and include activities that appeal to each member of the family. Use Web resources to read about things to do in different weather conditions, too, just in case your field trip day turns out to be rainy or in the middle of a heat wave.
- Unplug! Once a week, make plans to spend at least part of a day without screen time (TV, computer, video games, etc.). Get your kids excited about discovering things to do without all of the electronics that surround us in the twenty-first century. Discover the fun that can be found by learning to cook something, making a photo collage, going for a bike ride together, discovering a craft, and similar activities.
- Make a difference! Virtually every family can do something to reach out to others in need. Kids of all ages feel great about helping, especially when they see what their efforts can do. Encourage your kids to collect items for the local food pantry and deliver your donations together. Spend a day sorting through clothes, toys, and books to find no-longer-used items your kids can donate to a charitable organization. Perhaps your kids want to plan a fundraiser for a group that has special meaning to them (e.g., animal shelter, children’s hospital, environmental group, etc.) Let them choose ways to volunteer their time and talents.
Summer vacation can still be a time for sleeping late (at least sometimes) and taking a break from the hectic routines of the school year. By planning a number of enjoyable and meaningful things to do during this break from school, your kids will return to class in the fall with more confidence, great memories, and maybe even some new friends they’ve met along the way. Have a fabulous summer!