The summer is upon us and as every parent knows, keeping those bundles of energy entertained until school starts again in August is no easy task. While any parent could set their child in front of a television or gaming system and let the child's brain disengage for the next twelve weeks, with a little planning, you can give your child more than enough material to write about in the traditional "What I Did Over Summer Vacation" essay.
Whether you are a stay-at-home caregiver or a working parent, planning some fun activities for kids this summer can create memories that will engage your child's mind, and will be cherished long into the next school year. So, to prevent your child's mind from melting like ice cream in the summer heat, consider making regular trips to your local public library.
Most libraries offer summer reading programs with a variety of awards and incentives. Programs are generally flexible enough that even non-readers are able to participate. After sitting in a classroom for 180 days of the school year, most kids are ready to go outdoors! Many state and national park services offer day-camps, Junior Ranger programs, and hands-on educational events designed to teach about conservation of natural resources, history, animal rehabilitation, survival skills, and more. If organized activities are not your style, you may wish to take advantage of hiking trails, miniature-golf courses, canoe or kayak rentals, picnic grounds, or fishing opportunities that can be found at many parks. (Check with your park office or ranger station about licensing requirements to fish in your state.)
If boredom has got your child down, introduce them to the value of volunteerism. Pick something that your child is interested in and is capable of doing. A child who loves animals may enjoy walking dogs at your local animal shelter. If your child possesses musical talent, consider visiting a nearby retirement center to play or sing for the residents. If your child enjoys building and sorting, organizing boxes at a local food bank might be a task at which they would excel. Opportunities to volunteer are endless. Show your child that serving others can be rewarding.
The summer months offer many opportunities to plan a get-together. Whether it's a Fourth-of-July picnic, a family reunion, or a back-to-school party with friends, involve your children in planning and hosting a celebration. Children might enjoy designing their own invitations to add a more personal touch to the event.