on a totally practical note…what do i do with my kids this summer?

Sometimes summer time can be  hard instead of magical!   If you are like me, my summers growing up were basically being kicked outside, hanging out out with the neighborhood kids, biking to a pool where my parents didn’t have to come with me.  However, not many of us have that anymore.  You might be wondering what to do with no one for your children to play with.  If you are working parent, you  know the struggle of having to divide the time off that you receive from your job and work with camps and babysitters to fill in the time.  If you are a stay at home, maybe your children are normally in school a good portion of the day and now you are wondering how to fill in time.  If you have teenagers, summers may feel different to you then when your children were small and you could just turn on a sprinkler and bring out popsicles and everyone was relatively happy.  So many different scenarios, but all looking for ideas!

One thing I realized early on is that summer for us, especially when my children were younger, was that summer required a bit of planning!  In order for things to flow, then I had to have at least a skeleton outline of what would happen, and I needed some ideas.

My first idea was always meaningful work.  This is really important for all children, from toddlers to teens.  Teens may be getting paid for work outside the home, but meaningful care and nurturing of the home is always important and should be a major foundation of the day and week.

Depending upon where you live, you can make being outside your number one priority after meaningful work.   Our days were often as simple as chores, park or a small hike in the morning, verses and songs or fingerplays, lunch and quiet time, a read aloud for the older children, pool or lake in the afternoon, dinner, bed.  Small children don’t need much more than that!  We often did some camping as well, and things like tubing on the lake or a nearby river (always a hit).

Sometimes if the weather was oppressive, our rhythm would become more elaborate with a  baking , painting, gardening, etc on certain days of the week – more like a rhythm we kept during the school year.  At the beginning of the summer I usually would invest in creating a box of goodies.  Maybe it was a few new puzzles, books, games, art kits – some new things that I would have to pull out on rainy days or times when things were getting dicey at home.  If you don’t have money to do this, don’t despair!  There are many lists of summer science and art activities, summer math activities, and other fun things to do with chalk and bubbles on Pinterest.

For children that were nine and up, we often  would tie in field trips to whatever grade we had just studied or were going to study in the fall.  We made trips to museums, aquariums, berry picking, living history museums, local attractions, or day or overnight trips to things just outside our immediate area.   Here is a list of summer activites that includes field trips:  Screen-Free Summer Activities.

Tell me how you are juggling your summer!


7 thoughts on “on a totally practical note…what do i do with my kids this summer?

  1. Don’t forget the local library! They usually have lots of summer offerings, sometimes even day camps. And some libraries have started to lend out puzzles, games and things. And if your library doesn’t have this, maybe you could suggest it and help start a drive to have people donate fun things that kids can “check out” and return for something new (to them!)

  2. Truthfully, I really think we need to go to a year round school system. The old agrarian model doesn’t work for most people in today’s world. The mother home is very rare. 13 weeks per quarter- 11 “on” and 2 “off” would work around most people’s holiday schedules and it would work much better for the children, especially so many who may not be able to get a decent lunch and who have nothing to do but watch TV. Two weeks is really a sufficient “break” to catch one’s breath and relax. And if school is so stressful that it takes 8 weeks to unwind, well, that’s the real problem, isn’t it? The summer quarter could be filled with swimming lessons, field trips and lots of art, music, dance and drama class as well as crafts and woodworking. The American school system really needs to re-think itself, IMO. Homeschool families might find it works more rhythmically, too.

    • I used to think it was important to have a full summer off, but I have to be honest and say my opinions are shifting. Summer is so hard on the majority of families in our neighborhood, and the children just end up in camp for the summer or like you said, if they have no money they have no food and are stuck inside the apartment. It would be lovely to see a summer quarter focused on hands-on activities, handwork, field trips just like you said. It would be so beneficial for this generation, which has already changed so much since my now almost 18 year old was little. Blessings and love, Carrie

  3. Berry picking and more berry picking and caring for our big vegetable garden…and then processing and preserving all the fruit and veg we’ve grown. Throw in a few beach trips, a family reunion, some camping, Vacation Bible School and swimming lessons and we have a very full summer indeed!

  4. Pingback: on a totally practical note…what do i do with my kids this summer? – Parents Article – Parents Blog

  5. I feel so fortunate that I live in a place where an old timey, magical summer is possible for my child!

    I think most public school teachers treasure their summers off to be with their children, and many other families do, too. Not our own district, but another school district nearby has an income based summer day care program, which allows families with both parents working and single parent families the option of having their kids at school, if they can’t afford summer camps, and the program runs more like a summer camp, with arts and crafts and outdoor activities. It’s a good summer job for college students, and also some teachers who don’t have children. I wish this type of program was more widespread, and I wish it was free for the lowest levels of income.

    I have an only child who is extremely extroverted. We live in a village, and she can play outside most of the day with the neighborhood children. If I lived in a more suburban place with more challenges for free play in the neighborhood, I would definitely have to enroll her in a few weeks of day camp scattered throughout the summer…just to fill her cup. And I would definitely talk to the working parents of her friends and see if I could arrange to care for a child or two for a few weeks each summer, in between summer camps, etc., in order to give my child time with her friends.

    I do think a long break from academics is a very good thing, but only if the time is filled with a lot of outdoor activity…and, of course, only if the child has plenty to eat at home. However, I don’t think a 10-12 week break from academics is necessary. I think 4-8 weeks is a long enough summer break. If a child is going to be stuck in an apartment all day without enough to eat, then I think being in school is much preferable to that situation!

    We homeschool, and we usually do an hour or two of summer school 2-4 days a week. The rest of the time, she is playing outside, or we are having adventures, or she is helping me with projects around the house and outside. The “summer doldrums” hit in mid-July, and we usually have a few weeks of very rainy weather at that time of year, so we do a few weeks of full homeschool days. Then we have another 3 weeks of our summer schedule before we start our next academic year.

    If you have a child who is not neurotypical, then a set routine is absolutely necessary, even if it’s different from the school year routine. As adults, and especially if we are homeschooling, we may want to just have freedom and play it by ear, but this can be very stressful for differently wired kids. I find that having a morning routine, mid-day routine, and evening routine that my child can depend on, allows for some chunks of time in between that can be more open and loose.

    Wishing everyone the best summer possible!

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