The kids are out of school and have no homework now, so, what are you to do? There are several summertime activities that can provide a less-structured learning experience for your kids, while never hearing the phrase “I’m bored.” You can give your kids the best summer ever and keep your cool – all it takes is a little planning and creativity.
“Mom, I’m bored,” is a phrase we as parents have heard – and said - a hundred times before. But, instead of giving your kids a bucket of water and a sponge to wipe down baseboards (they’ll never say they are bored again – wrong!), why not take some time to plan out the summer months so everyone wins?
Planning the summer schedule
Summertime is near, or already here in some cases, and the kids are on the loose. Your 7-9-year-old wants a piece of the action, a slice of life, or just plain something to do. Now is the time to plan just exactly what you can offer them and yourself (peace of mind being the biggest benefit) before the summer escapes you.
This takes a little research. If you are very aware of what your town and surrounding communities have to offer your family, then good for you! But it still never hurts to do an internet or newspaper search regarding different camps and activities that will be going on while the kids are home.
Visit your local newspaper Web site or actually sit down and give the paper version a good read. Under community (or something similar) you will find several listings for different activities each month. Cut it out or take notes on the activities that are most interesting to your kids and yourself.
Then, get the exact schedules of local zoos, museums, water parks, state parks, libraries, pools and other “kid hot spots”, cut and paste that information into a document and save for later.
Also, think about what you as a parent want to accomplish this summer. Want to do some landscaping? Clean out the attic? Detail your car? Make your list and set that aside too.
Not done yet. Remember – we don’t want our kids to be bored, so we must provide a wide variety of activities in order for them to work their brains – and their bodies – so they feel satisfied and won’t fight going to bed at the end of the day. Focus on a few of your children’s hobbies – do they enjoy flying paper airplanes, collecting stamps or coins or making bird houses? Write down a few of these hobbies, and then visit a few arts and crafts Web sites for ideas that can be done without leaving the home.
Once you have all these wonderful activities gathered – it’s time to figure out your schedule. We can’t avoid housework or a job just because the kids are out of school. Figure out when the best time for you to get chores done and projects out the door before planning your list of activities.
Now you are ready to put your summer calendar together. Either print or purchase a calendar to use for your summer schedule. Then, pull out your lists of activities, hobbies, crafts and “mom and dad” chores to record on each page. Start with your work or chore schedule – it is best to do said chores or work at the same time each week day - this makes it easy for the kids to remember that you will be busy or off limits during this time. You may even be able to squeeze in this time while they are still sweetly dreaming in their beds.
Once you have that recorded, take a look at the scheduled events in your area. Record those dates down on the calendar.
You are almost done. Now, look at the calendar. You may see that the activities you’ve recorded are spread out across the months, or are lumped together. Keep in mind that you don’t want your children to be over-stimulated – you just want to provide them with great summer experiences - so, don’t go overboard. Allow one day a week as “home day.” During home day, schedule one activity – maybe craft making, washing the car, or cleaning the attic – and then keep the rest of the day as “free time.” They, and you, will need a break.
And if local activities fall on the same dates, have your kids choose which ones they would like to attend. This gives them some control over their summer vacation, and prevents a fight later.
With that said, your calendar is finished. Sit down with your kids and show them the summer plan, pointing out the specific times you must work or take care of the home, and the “free day” which gives them the opportunity to choose what they want to do around the house. They will be excited to see all the wonderful opportunities they have this summer, and you will be termed “Queen Mom” or “King Dad” for giving them this wonderful gift of stimulation.
Activities your 7-9-year-old won’t want to miss
Now that you know how to plan your summer activities, let’s discuss a few activities that most 7-9-year-olds (and their parents) will really dig. They are broken up into three different groups – the basics, which are those activities that almost every parent participated in; the educational, which provides a continuing educational experience which supports what your children have learned in school and the creative, which inspires out of the box thinking skills and fun for everyone.
The basics – (quick tip – pick no more than three a summer unless your kids want more)
Vacation Bible school. This is a great opportunity for kids to learn about religion in a fun, fast-paced setting. They will come home singing songs, telling stories and bearing gifts they made each day. Sign them up at your local church, or if you don’t attend church, almost every community church offers this program, and announces it in your local newspaper or their Web site.
Summer camp. There are several summer camps available for kids ages 7-9. Some are faith-based, while others are activities-based. You can choose from day camps or overnight camps – which ever one your child is most comfortable with. These are also listed in your local newspaper, or visit different Web sites – for example, Boy or Girl Scouts, YMCA or local state parks.
Sports camps. Your child can work his or her sports skills whether they love baseball, soccer, swimming, football, horseback riding or even archery. These are great for the sports-minded kids who already play the sport, or have never played but always wanted to. The sports camps are usually listed in your local newspaper or on your community’s sports organizations Web sites.
Reading camps. Almost every community library holds a reading camp for children. This can be done several different ways based on the age of your child – they may have a week camp that offers arts and crafts based on books they read each day, or they may provide a book list for your child to read before and discuss during the camp. Either way, this is a perfect opportunity to keep your child’s reading skills at a maximum while entertaining their critical thinking. Visit your local library to find out more.
Children’s festivals. Your town may hold a summer children’s festival that provides children with various arts and crafts, reading opportunities, music, acting and much more. If your town doesn’t support a fun-filled festival for children, create your own neighborhood festival. Assign the neighborhood parents interested in participating to be responsible for a portion (games, food, arts and crafts, theater, etc.) and put on a grand show.
The educational – (quick tip – pick one for each week that your child isn’t in a camp)
Museums. Just about every community either has a few museums or is situated near cities that provide these great facilities. Museums are wonderful for kids and adults alike – they allow children to learn more about art, history and the likes while stimulating great conversation at the dinner table. Some museums are free, while others may have a small fee. Check their time and fee schedule on their Web site or give them a call.
Libraries. Visit your local library and have the whole family check out a few books each week. A great idea is to have an educational theme each week (birds, trees, the human body, etc.) and have your children find interesting books on each subject. Hold discussions regarding these themes – who knows, you may just learn something new!
State parks. Take advantage of local state parks or take a few hours drive to one near you. Many state parks tie in the history of the state, making it a great way to learn about where you live. Parents, read up on the state park before you go, just in case there are a few hard hitting questions from your kids – or, once you get back home, research it together.
Plant an herb or vegetable garden. Either till up a portion of your yard and prepare it for a small garden, or grab several large pots or containers to plant an herb or vegetable garden. Have the kids help in each step of the process. Make sure they understand what it takes for a garden to grow, and let them go. Have them take pictures of the plants every few days so they can record the growth process. The best part is they get to eat all of their hard work!
Volunteer at local non-profit agencies. Both children and parents need to make time to volunteer for a local non-profit agency. Together, your family can sit down and decide what agency they would like to help with – a children’s shelter, a health-related agency, the YMCA, a tutoring agency – there are so many to choose from. The benefits for volunteering are immense – your children will feel like they are giving back to the community and really making a difference, while understanding how blessed they are in the process. Plus, it is a fun way to spend the day. Meeting new people, learning new things and spreading joy is what it’s all about.
The creative- (quick tip – pick as many creative activities as your week will allow)
Yard sale. Remember that attic you wanted cleaned out? Well, tell your kids that everyone needs to pitch in and clean the attic so you can hold a yard sale. Together, decide how the money will be spent – a mini-beach vacation, some new outdoor toys, etc. This will definitely get them into the mood for helping you get rid of that unwanted junk. Have them place each item to be sold in categories, and then decide how much it should be sold for. Then discuss how you would persuade someone to purchase each item. The creative part comes in on yard sale day – have your children do the persuading (don’t let them overdo it, give your visitors some space). This will give them a taste of how to be a salesperson, and at the end of the day, they’ll see just how much their persuasive skills benefited them.
Yard art. Find several items around the house or outside (maybe even items you didn’t sell in the yard sale) – twine, rope, old shovels, pitchforks, wood, tin cans, old plates and glasses, screws, etc. Place each item in a pile and tell your children to make a sculpture that will be displayed in your yard. Parents, please supervise your children since some items could be a hazard if they are left alone. And, while you’re at it, make one yourself. It’s too much fun to leave yourself out of the mix. And, you never know, you may just have the next world renowned sculptor on your hands!
Back yard mural. If you have a few palates and some old wood lying around, turn them into a work of art. Add some posts to the palates and use wood screws to attach plywood to the palates. Have your children create a work of art with their paint brushes. Be sure to protect the mural with a polyurethane spray or paint – you don’t want their hard work to be washed down the drain when it rains. If wood isn’t an option, purchase some canvas and tie it up on your porch posts or on your fence.
Story time. Raining outside? Make a story circle. Have the family sit in a circle and start a story, like “it was a cold, rainy day and …” then have each family member add to the story. Record the story time effort on your camcorder or on a cassette tape or CD player so you can listen back later. They will get a kick out of listening to it, and you will have a great memory captured for life.
Become performance artists. Sit down with your kids and write a small performance. Once the performance is written to their standards, decide what costumes and scenes the performance needs. Then, with your help, have your children build the set and make the costumes. Invite family and friends over for the show – supply snacks, beverages and even programs. Your kids love it, and so will the audience!
Publish an art book. Over the summer’s activities, have your children write short stories, poems and jokes and draw and paint pictures. Collect them in a special place, and at the end of the summer combine them all together to make an art book. They will love to see their work captured, and you can actually say your kids are published artists!
Take these tips and plan a summer that won’t easily be forgotten. Your children will love staying busy and learning new things; and you’ll feel like a kid again too. Relish in this opportunity now, because it will be a blink of an eye and then they will be making their own summer activities lists for their children. What are you waiting for?