Parenting Tips on How to Choose Summer Activities for Kids
Striking a Balance
It is summer once again and it’s insane to let the season pass by doing nothing. Kids and teens have countless summer activity options and deciding for the assortment of activities adds to the thrill of anticipation. In deciding for summer activities for your kids remember to balance fun, budget, individual health and edifying needs, as well as relationship-building goals. If you managed to choose and carry out at least one activity that pertains to each section below and stayed within budget, then it’s safe to say that you knocked just the right amount of balance.
1. Summer Means Fun in the Sun
After months of seeking warmth from blankets, coats and booties, your kids are definitely looking forward to going out in the sun with light clothing on and free to wiggle their toes in flip flops. Summertime is fun time and it’s perfect for outdoor activities, games and sports. In our area, summer is the season for basketball and baseball leagues. For others, its soccer, volleyball or beach volley. Summer also means basking in the sun and playing on the sand, so go ahead visit pools, resorts and beaches. Just don’t forget to wear sun protection. Sunglasses and sunblock lotions should come in handy. Swimming, snorkeling, diving, wakeboarding, river rafting, jet skiing, camping and mountain climbing are some activities that have also been equated to summer fun.It’s just a matter of choosing the sport or activity you and/or your kids enjoy and just go on and do it. For smaller kids, outside play with friends and siblings, blowing bubbles, side street art, water gun, etc., means fun, fun, fun. Watch the video for tips.
2. Discover and Enrich Talents
This can be done anytime of the year but summer offers more opportunities to discover and enrich the talents of your children. At this point, it is best to define talent and differentiate it from skill to avoid these two terms from being used interchangeably.
Talent is an innate ability to do something. It is something one is born with and naturally good at. Some people are not aware of their talent and need somebody else to point it out to them, while others have an instantaneous recognition of theirs. This link shares some tips on how to discover one's talent. Skill, on the other hand, is proficiency or ability that is acquired or developed through training or experience. For example, if photography is your talent, related skill would be how to use a camera. Once talent has been recognized, make it flourish through proper training and development of related skills.
If one discovered or already knew that writing is his/her talent, he or she might consider developing skill on the use of Microsoft Word or challenging oneself into publishing an article or two in a peer-reviewed journal or magazine or even joining a writing competition. If one has a talent for dancing, he or she may enroll in a dance class, join a summer dance club or even organize a dance group. Talent enrichment requires continuous training, guidance from a mentor, critiques from experts and appreciation from the general public. All of these provide avenues for continual improvement until one reaches his/her goal…that is, world class performance.
On-line Painting by Michael Thompson
If attending a formal lesson (i.e. art classes, piano lessons, dance lessons, etc.) is beyond your budget or simply difficult to find in your area, you may opt for online tutorials. Watch this awesome first video of online painting lesson by Michael Thompson and your kids will be enticed to finish the four videos in this series. You only need to procure the materials and you and your kids are set to a creative journey.
To enhance our daughter’s musical talent, she’ll enroll in piano lessons this summer. She had voice lessons in the past and is good at playing the keyboard and recorder or flute, but we know that a formal piano lesson and instructions on reading musical notes will improve her craft a level higher. Cascading what she would learn to children in the neighborhood will also be part of her training this summer. I won’t be surprised if she turns out to be a world renowned musical composer and performer (that’s one proud Mama speaking!).
3. Learn a New Skill
We understood from the above discussion that learning a skill related to one’s talent will make that talent flourish. But there are other obvious benefits from learning a new skill apart from talent enrichment. Learning is growth and it upgrades one’s life. It gives your child a sense of achievement of being able to do something new. Some skills improve basic survival; others are essential life skills, while there are also those that improve a teen’s credentials in establishing a career in the future. One may not always become a master in every skill one chooses to learn and develop, but he or she will surely benefit from the training on focus, discipline and perseverance that comes with the learning process. But some may be lucky to discover another talent just by learning a new skill.
Here are some examples of skills your kids and teens might consider learning this summer: household management (i.e. cooking, baking, gardening/pruning, household budget planning); music and performing arts (playing a musical instrument, singing, dancing, theatre play); visual arts and crafts (drawing/painting, crafting, crochet, dress-making); athletics (swimming, tennis, fencing); and entrepreneurship (buy & sell). Choosing to learn something on top of the talent-related skill (number 2) and other than a fun activity (number 1) would help in broadening your kid’s horizons this summer.
4. Visit a New Place
What could be a better season to travel and explore new places than summer? The weather conditions are suitable and safe for travel and kids have a longer school break. Discover the beauty of nature by visiting mountain or beach resorts, parks and wildlife or even natural history museums. For teenagers, visit to spiritual places is timely. The benefits of travel experiences to growing children and adults alike are evident, but families often don’t do it because of budget constraints. Well, if budget is limited, go on with your travel but don’t go far. The idea is to go somewhere you’ve never been and this doesn’t have to be far at all times. For sure there are historic or relevant places nearby that you have not laid eyes on. You know better what the attractions in your locality or province are…discover, explore and learn.
5. Read a New Book
You will find that most summer activities are interactive. It is best to balance this with some alone time for reflection and personal development. Encourage your kids to grab a book and read, don’t let the summer pass without them finishing at least one book. It is said that people who know how but don’t read are not in any way better than those who don’t know how to read at all. People benefit mentally, spiritually and socially from reading. Reading is a great avenue to learning and doing it regularly improves one’s ability to focus.
What book to read depends on your child’s age, Lexile score (or measure of reading ability based on Lexile Framework for Reading), interests and book availability. For younger kids, illustrated classic story books are recommended. There are also classic books for teenagers such as great novels that entertain and at the same time enlighten young minds. National Geographic books are worlds of fun for the young and old alike. You don’t necessarily have to buy books; you may borrow from a library. If you must buy a book of interest and budget is limited, look for book sales.
Writing down the different activities for your kids and the whole family will help you organize your thoughts and allow you to assess if important considerations mentioned above have been covered. Don’t be caught unprepared for your children’s clamor to ease their boredom or realize it’s too late to accommodate important activities. Check out this example of summer plan I made for our four kids of various ages.
Some Reminders for Summer
Indulge in Healthy Summer Foods and Refreshments. Summer is the season for fruits like water melons, mangoes, berries, pineapples and a lot others. Either you eat them directly or make them into cold refreshments, your kids are sure to benefit from their good taste and health benefits. Fruits, in general, help boost the immune system; the high fiber content helps improve digestion and promote healthier eyes, skin and hair; fruits also improve blood circulation and the cardiac functions. Another summer favorite is sweet corn. Boiled, steamed, grilled, cooked as vegetable kernels or eaten raw, however you want it served, freshly harvested sweet corn is simply deliciously healthy. Don’t miss these summer food indulgences or you’ll wait another year for the next chance.
Spend quality time with friends and family. Making good use of time away from school should include lots of bonding moments with loved ones. Summer is the time to catch up on relationships and make ties stronger. Go ahead and engage in interactive games and other wholesome activities without being graded numerically-- just enjoy the company of friends and family.
Document the moments. You would not want to easily forget the fun and experience after summer is gone so make sure you are documenting the moments with pictures, videos and souvenir items. Viewing the documentations will relive the happiness when summer is over and will make you look forward to the next.
Be Safe. Whatever you do and wherever you go be sure to put safety first. Summer is no fun when somebody gets hurt or injured. Though accident may happen at times, this negative event is easier to accept and understand if we know it is unavoidable and recklessness did not cause it. Enjoy and be safe.
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