How To Banish Summer Boredom
Keep kids active and engaged this summer.
Ahh, the sweet sounds of summer: Soft breezes, morning songbirds and children laughing. If you’re a parent, however, your summer soundscape is more likely to be shrieks of “Mom! Dad! I’m bored!”
For children, summer break often starts out strong, as kids relish relaxed days, time with friends and outdoor fun. By July, weary of the summer routine, summer excitement devolves into boredom.
Fear not: Summer’s long days offer ample opportunities for fun, relaxation and learning if you know where to look. Here’s how to banish boredom and keep the fun in summer.
Tempted to pop in another Bubble Guppies DVD to wile away another summer day? Technology is part of modern life, and an occasional show or tablet play session isn’t a problem, but the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends minimal screen time for little ones and keeping face-to-face time up front. Getting toddlers and preschoolers outside can help boost summer learning, says Craig Bach, vice president of education for early childhood education center The Goddard School.
“Children experience the deepest, most genuine learning through play and fun activities. Whether it is in a classroom or outside, there are always opportunities to support learning,” Bach says.
Head outdoors for a nature walk to search for leaves, pebbles, sticks and stems. Exploring your own neighborhood can yield new treasures.
“Pack a magnifying glass, collect rocks to paint and look through ‘binoculars’ made of two toilet paper tubes to offer a new view of the world,” Bach says.
Got housebound school-age siblings? Then you’ve probably got summer squabbles on your hands. Cooped-up kids often find a way to bicker, says Cary-based mom of three Stephenie Peterson, author of the children’s book “Nellie Nova Takes Flight.”
“As a homeschooling mom, I deal with sibling fighting year round,” she says. “I try to give my kids projects they’re all interested in, so that they’ll work toward a common goal.”
Creating a shared enterprise, from a lemonade stand to yard pick-up service to a dog-washing business, can align kids’ goals and spark cooperation, particularly when kids get to split the proceeds. Other bonding activities for siblings, include co-planning a family dinner and movie night, re-arranging or decorating a shared bedroom or play space, writing a family recipe book, compiling family photos into scrapbooks, or creating a family summer newsletter or website.
Summer jobs can be a boon to teens, boosting their bank accounts and getting them out of the house and off the couch. But these days, teen employment is relatively rare. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that teen employment has fallen to its lowest level in four decades, and fewer than a third of teens hold summer jobs.
If your teen won’t be earning a paycheck this summer, consider requiring weekly volunteer hours instead. Community service doesn’t offer a paycheck, but it offers perks similar to a steady job, such as helping teens learn to work with a supervisor and co-workers, manage their own schedule, follow a dress code and interact with a wide variety of people in a professional setting.
Contact local youth centers, retirement homes, animal shelters, equine therapy centers, day camps for children, and soup kitchens about volunteer opportunities. City events, “fun runs” and sponsored races also offer volunteer opportunities for community-minded teens, giving them an opportunity to strengthen resumes and college applications while giving back.
Malia Jacobson is an award-winning health and parenting journalist and mom of three. Her latest book is “Sleep Tight, Every Night: Helping Toddlers and Preschoolers Sleep Well Without Tears, Tricks, or Tirades.”