Summer’s just around the bend, which can be an amazing time for your family. Who wouldn’t be excited for family vacationing, a trip to the amusement park, and long days at the neighborhood pool? But for the many days in between, it can be challenging to keep your kids occupied and productive. One good place to start is thinking about what it is that your family values— is it the arts, cultural exploration, music, health, volunteering? Consider what foundation you want to build for your family and plan summer activities around those pillars. In order to help you avoid they typical pitfalls, here are some things not to do once school is out.
Parental Tips for Planning Summer Activities
What NOT to Do:
Force them into something just because everyone else is doing it. Nowadays, everything is about keeping up with the Joneses. But just because your children’s buddies attend the Pokemon summer camp doesn’t mean that’s the best thing for your kids. Make conscious choices about which summer activities support your children’s interests and the values you want to instill in them. Keeping a social life over the summer is important, but this can be done with sleepovers and playdates. If you have the choice, find something that your kids are truly interested in— like dancing, sports, or helping others— and start planting those seeds over the summer. It’s ok to join the crowd sometimes, but when you encourage your kids to do something they genuinely enjoy and learn from, it will teach them to think independently.
Enroll them in a full summer of academic stuff. Preventing the summer slide with some reading and educational refreshers is important, but kids need a break from academics to nurture other capabilities. It’s only natural to dream of our kids becoming the valedictorian, a doctor, or an engineer, but pushing them to advance in various subjects over the summer may lead to burnout. What do we recommend? Try building a week of unstructured time following a week of structured activity over the summer. Dorothy Sluss, President of the U.S. chapter of the International Play Association, states that children need three weeks of less-structured time for every week of intensive activity or sleepaway camp. This is especially important for younger kids that need time to play and explore.
Let them watch TV or play with electronics all summer long. This is literally a no-brainer. Allowing your kids to watch TV and play on their tablets all day long will turn their brains and bodies into mush. Studies show that children who consistently spend more than 4 hours per day watching TV are more likely to be overweight. Too much television can also expose kids to violent acts, risky behaviors, and stereotypes that impact their behavior and sense of security.