June 15 2011 by Julie Drossos
It's that loved (especially if you're a teacher) yet dreaded (if you are a parent) time of year again - another school year over and another summer of finding things to occupy your kidlets and keep them out of trouble! If you don't want to send your kids away to summer camp or day camp, here are a few ideas for you to consider that can easily be coordinated at your end.
Summer of Goals
Keep your kids moving towards a goal or a focus by sitting down together at the start of the summer, and creating a "summer goals" list. Come up with a prize or reward for accomplishing their goal(s).
It's always great to think along the lines of keeping your child active - perhaps have them aim to achieve a certain score in golf, or learn to play tennis, work the courage up to jump off the high board at the community centre pool, run a lap of the track in X amount of time - you get the picture. Another good idea is to keep the scholastic vibe flowing...think about setting a goal for your child to finish a book a month (or something like that depending on what types of books they are reading and how keen of a reader he or she is). An alternative way of doing this is to have them set a goal to read X number of minutes per day. Something cool to support your child's reading goals is Barnes & Noble's "Imagination Destination" program - your child can earn one free book for every 8 books they read.
Don't forget that this is something you can do to keep yourself on track as well - set a goal to restructure or redesign the layout of the garage storage or your linen closet, or think on a larger scale - perhaps building a work shed or re-landscaping the garden (and don't forget to reward yourself for accomplishing what you set out to do as well).
It's important to teach our kids to give back to the community we live in, and for them to feel grateful for their good health and opportunities in life. A lot of local organizations will offer ways that your child can volunteer their time for all or part of their summer break. Many local hospitals have programs in place where children and teens can volunteer their time doing simple things such as pushing snack carts, greeting visitors or escorting patients around the hospital. Even just spending a few hours providing companionship to other kids or elders can make a huge difference to those who have been cooped up at a hospital for weeks or months.
Keep a Schedule
Going from school-life to a completely unstructured environment spells DISASTER for your kids (and for you). You will thank yourself if you take the time at the start of the summer to come up with some sort of schedule or plan for the summer. An idea would be to make every day of the Monday to Friday week assigned for a certain activity or task. Example:
Monday: Chores day - Sunday night compile a list of small chores for your child/children, and have them dedicate Monday to getting them done so they can have the rest of the week for more "fun" tasks!
Tuesday: Craft Day - use a site like Kaboose Crafts for Kids and come up with a new craft or project for them to focus on once a week.
Wednesday: Get outside! Take to the park for a scavenger hunt, go to the beach, or enjoy a hike as a family. Join up with another family and the parents can take turns on this one to allow some parental "time off" on alternating weeks.
Thursday: Culture Club. Take your kids to the museum, art gallery, or a cultural festival, or venture out to part of town that celebrates a different ethnicity.
Friday: Sports Day. Arrange for a playdate with another child/children and plan for a different sport every week (softball, an obstacle course at the park, tennis, street hockey, beach volleyball or badminton, golf and swimming are just a few).
Whatever you do, the more you think now and plan ahead before the "I'm boooored, there's nothing to do" starts, the better your summer will be, and before you know it, September will be here and you'll be gladly passing your kids back to the open arms of their teachers. In the meantime, enjoy spending time with your kids, challenging them, developing them and enjoying the simple things in life along side of them!