Keeping your school age children happy, physically active, and learning during the summer.
I am a retired teacher and always used to say that we should float a bond referendum for teacher pay raises the second week of August! Parents who are not accustomed having the children at home all day have to adjust their schedules in order to fit in the needs of their youngsters. Below are some suggestions one might consider:
Vacation Bible Schools - All children are welcomed at these, not just church members. If you are taking your children, round up some of their playmates to join them. (You'll make some Mom's day!)
Morning Movies for Kids - Our local theater has a kids program at 10:00 a.m. during the summer. Because of the popularity of this program, they are now offering it several times a week. The admission is very little and they have a great concessions special.
Visit Your Local Library - Kids can be entertained for hours in the quiet air-conditioned venue offered by the library. See if yours has a special craft/story time program which your children might enjoy. If you don't have a computer at home, take them to the library. It's free and they'll know how to operate them.
Take a Field Trip to a Nearby Park - There are many beautiful public parks that offer more than just playground equipment. Often there are nature trails with the plants/trees identified, ducks to feed (take your stale bread and leftover popcorn), places for a picnic and all for free. Many state parks have rangers there to present free informative stories about the site.
Set Aside a Quiet Time Each Afternoon - Encourage them to read or rest during this time; no TV and only quiet music. Post a chart with numbered lines on it in an easily accessible place. Make a chart for each child and have them record the names of the books they read. Have them give an oral report to you and their siblings.
For younger children you can make a bookworm by cutting out colorful body segments and adding the name of each book as they read it. They love to see it grow. For your non-readers, make them one with the books they have sat and listened to you read to them. Your children will be much better prepared to start school again in the fall if you continue this practice through the summer. You could also work out some kind of point system for a more tangible reward if you choose.
Swimming Outings - Most children love to splash in the water. Have them run through the sprinkler when you're watering your garden or lawn. For even more fun, join them for a walk in the rain (not a thunderstorm, of course) with flip flops, clothing that it's okay to get wet, and no umbrella. They'll love to see you showing your kid side and you'll have some good laughs together.
Farmer's Market or Pick-It-Yourself Farm - If possible, plant some easy to grow vegetables in your yard or in containers on the deck or patio. Potatoes are a good choice because they require little, if any, attention and digging them is like a treasure hunt. If you don't want to plant your own garden, take them to a farm where they will be allowed to pick what they will be having for dinner.
Plan a Scavenger Hunt - Adjust the clues to suit the age of each child. Invite some friends over for even more fun.
Find Other Parents Whom You Trust and Do an Exchange - That way you'll each have a day off to catch up on whatever you choose to spend it doing.
Enjoy these days because you'll miss them when those little ones are grow and no longer need your suggestions for entertainment.
Source: Years of experience as a camp counselor, teacher, a stay-at-home mother and the "Mommy who likes to." (A title given to me by my son when he was in grade school. After a couple of exhausting weeks of grade-parenting, supervising their friends who came to swim or play, transporting many whose parents couldn't, baking cookies for school parties, etc., I slipped and said something I wished I hadn't the minute it slipped out of my mouth. "Why am I always the one who...? My son replied, "Because you're the mommy who likes to." That makes it all worth it.
By Sandy from Elon, NC
Editor's Note: Do you have a favorite frugal way to occupy your children in the summertime? Share it with us here.
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