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You barely make it to Saturday morning (GASP! Yes, ONE day after school gets out) at the end of the school year and you hear, “MOM, I’m BOOOORED!”
HERE. WE. GO. #sigh
You patiently (#butnotsopatiently) ask, “Well, what do you want to do?”
“I don’t know….. I’M BORED!”
A mere twelve hours out of the gate… and it begins. Do you need engaging summer activities for kids? Yes, you do…. and you need them now.
If you’re like me, you’ll agree that it is not a parent’s job to entertain their children every minute of every single day. That said, I do think it IS the parent’s job to train children to become more self-sufficient as their age allows. It is also a parent’s job to give kids structure, which is especially important during the summer months. If we expect our kids to be able to work and play independently, we need to teach them how.
Filling Up Empty Hours During the Summer:
In our house, the kids are required to work each morning before they get to touch electronics. Their jobs includes 30 minutes of reading, 15-20 minutes of piano, and “other duties as assigned” by the boss (ha… that’s me). These things must be completed before their hot little hands touch a tablet.
Beyond their required work time each morning and family game nights, summer camps, trips out of town, basketball practice, or gymnastics class, there are a lot of summer hours to fill… so many hours! Right?
A Quick Word on the Expectations You Have for Your Child(ren):
Before we go further, I want to mention something important. If you’re concerned that you will face a power struggle with your child(ren) about what you are requiring of them during the summer, you might be interested in a book by Dr. Leonard Sax called The Collapse of Parenting. More than ever, our children need us to take the wheel. Even if you feel slightly tempted to cave in when your child says things like, “I hate piano and I’m not going to do it anymore! You are SOOOO MEAN… the summer is supposed to be about relaxing and having fun! I shouldn’t have to do work during the summer!”… this book is perfect for you. Our children need us to be masters at setting limits, providing structure, and making difficult decisions (even when they adamantly disagree). I wouldn’t know about this book myself if I hadn’t gotten to a point of concern with one of my own children. The level of disrespect that I was experiencing concerned me. The relationship between his level of respect and the amount of control he had over some areas of his life couldn’t be denied, especially after I digested some of the information in this book. I highly recommend that you hear what Dr. Sax has to say. It’s really important stuff.
Fun Summer Activities for Kids:
All that said, a balance of work and fun is essential during the summer. To make your life a bit easier, I rounded up over 100 meaningful and engaging summer activities that can absorb some of the extra time. All the activities are organized by category. If you’d like a copy of the list, it is available here for FREE in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. A word of caution, though… remember how I said it’s our job to teach our kids how to be more self-sufficient? Giving them a list isn’t going to achieve that goal. Instead, take a look at the list with your child and ask them to choose three things they can do independently during the week and two or three things that they’d like to do, but want to do with you.
Summer Passport Activities for Kids:
If you’re interested in something a little bit more involved, I’ve also created a Summer Passport. Each page has a space for a stamp upon completion of the activity and a couple of lines to write about their experience. The summer passport is also organized by category so that you can make one big, fat passport with over 100 pages, or you can make smaller booklets by category.
Academic Summer Activities for Kids:
Though the summer passport and the checklist include some academic activities, I wanted to mention a couple of ways to include academic standards during the summer months. In addition to their regular schedule, I am requiring my kids to do some writing each day (this is also a great way for kids to earn extra minutes on electronics).
As a teacher, I’ve come to the sad conclusion that many children have a severe memory lapse in writing by the end of the summer. Not only does extra writing practice keep that loss at bay, it’s also great for the brain! Since many kids experience writing as laborious and boring, I really wanted them to be excited about tackling some fun writing tasks. To fill that need, I created 30-Day Writing Challenges (one for 1st-2nd grade and one for 3rd-4th grade). They each cover writing standards in the core curriculum and are infused with a variety of activities. A few ways to amp up the engagement of this writing project (or any other academic activities) might include:
- binding the pages into a book (use a three-ring binder or a binding machine, which can be found at any office supply store)
- completing the project with a friend or neighbor
- offering some type of reward upon completion of the challenge (I like to try rewards that continue to engage my children, like more books, art materials, etc.)
- sharing the completed project with teachers (their previous teacher or their teacher for the coming year)
- setting aside time to listen to your child’s ideas and completed writing activities
You can also search for a myriad of summer activities on Teachers Pay Teachers. Depending on your own child’s needs (their ages, areas of strength/weakness, and interests), you will find a variety of high quality options. Before you do anything, though, snatch up your free checklist and check out The Collapse of Parenting by Leonard Sax. Your entire summer will thank you for it!
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