Keeping Kids Entertained During Summer Break

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Summer is coming and the kids will be looking for things to keep them busy. This is a page about keeping kids entertained during summer break.


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August 24, 2010

My husband and I have to work out entertainment on a very tight budget. I have two little boys, age 5 and 3. When my boys get the stir crazies, we take a walk to the closest park in the neighborhood. On the way, we use it as a learning experience. We look for special shapes, colors, textures, etc. There are endless possibilities to this game that we play on the way to the park. We play for a while and then we walk a different route home.

This is one of many different ways we get rid of the stir crazy boys. I hope this suggestion helps a lot. We save lots of money by doing it and they also get a learning experience as well.

By Lisa from Pekin, IL

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I have raised 4 girls plus provided day care for many children for several years. Now I take care of a 2 year-old and a 6 year-old granddaughter during school breaks. Frugal living is nothing new to us as I was raised in a family of 11 kids and many foster children. We may have struggled because money was tight, but we never seemed to lack for fun things to do and there was always something going on that held our attention.


Sorry this is long - I have a lot more ideas on vacation fun on little or no money, so will hope to post more as time permits. Have fun!

By Debi Radcliffe from Groton, NY

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Every year before the last day of school, I obtain a copy of the coming year curriculum. I evaluate it and note any summer activities that will help my kids gain a healthy headstart.

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If your kids are wanting something fun to do this summer, have them start their own paper. They can interview the neighbors that they know, and write stories about their own life.

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Research shows many kids "slide" up to 30% during the summer months. Don't let that happen to you.

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What to do for free and fun during summer? Can't go wrong with reading and being rewarded. Check with your local library to see if you can participate in summer reading - this is available for kids and adults!

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May 16, 2007

Get free movies to watch from local library. This is especially great for kids over the summer. Make one day a week a movie day.

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Lori Enos
March 21, 2002

Family activities don't have to be elaborate or costly to be enjoyable. Often the simplest activities are the ones kids enjoy the most. We've taken our kids to Walt Disney World and a host of other extravagant vacations, but the things they seem to enjoy the most are going on picnics and having family game night.

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To keep kids entertained, look for free events. Sometimes programs offer 1 free class with no obligation. Gymboree, Little Gym, and Stroller Strides do this.


Additionally, some churches have open play times for a minimal fee.

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July 8, 2008

Kids get bored during the summer and taking them places can get expensive. Try doing a craft project once a week. Something easy and cheap.

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Sandy Baker
May 26, 2006

Are you looking for a way to have fun with your kids right at home? Then consider having a jungle day in the backyard. There are many things that can be done in the backyard to turn it into a pretend jungle.

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June 14, 2005

Water balloon fights are always a big hit at summer kids parties, but the burst balloons all over the ground are a hazard to wildlife and curious toddlers. Encourage kids to clean up by offering a prize for the one who picks up the most bits of rubber balloon.

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Susan Sanders-Kinzel
June 25, 2004

In the summer the kids need things to do for fun and learning. It's a good time to broaden their education, especially outdoors.


Here are some links of sites with indoor and outdoor activities for children.

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Susan Sanders-Kinzel
June 2, 2003

Summer brings mixed feelings. Usually the first week is fun but after a few days we hear the familiar refrain, "Mom, I'm bored, what can I do?"

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During summer vacation kids need to rest, as well as, keep busy. So many parents are concerned about making their kids have a productive summer that they forget that summer is also a time to sit back and relax.

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

What can my grandson do to beat boredom this summer? He is 11 and is driving me crazy! I keep him in the daytime while his parents work. I won't let him play on the computer and he's tired of his Playstation games. (I refuse to buy him any more). Does anyone have any ideas? There aren't many kids his age that live close by for him to play with. Any ideas?

Linda from Alabama


By Darlene (Guest Post)
July 3, 20070 found this helpful

Here are several suggestions I can think of:
1. a scavenger hunt (the more difficult, the longer he stays busy!)
2. a nature walk (along a beach, in the woods, or a park are good choices)
3. take him fishing
4. look on the internet for some games they played during different centuries
5. go to the local library (they have more than books!)
6. get him to read to you (Harry Potter books, Eragon or Eldest are some choices, there are lots more)
He will balk at any idea at first. Just be patient and keep trying. If he finds some type of bug or insect, go to the library and look it up. Have him earn "computer bucks". Instead of making play money, you could use old monopoly money. Make each dollar worth so many minutes of computer time. Have him do some of the suggestions for a while and then he can earn an equal amount of supervised computer time.
It's been a while since I had kids that age. But I do have six grandchildren. My daughter uses the computer bucks and not only for playing games. Her children love going to the library etc.
I certainly hope this helps.
Good luck.
PS does he enjoy any sports? if so, what teams are his favorite? have him look up the history of the teams he likes

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July 3, 20070 found this helpful

I would recommend The American Boy's Handy Book or The Dangerous Book for Boys (links below). They have lots of outdoorsy and other really interesting activities. Is he a Boy Scout? Get him working on those merit badges! Also you could think about volunteering somewhere with him. Help him to find ways to use his time productively, not just to pass the time. Help him to learn a new skill or hobby that he can show for his time. Good luck! (Affiliate Link) (Affiliate Link)

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July 9, 20070 found this helpful

There are usually stores around where he can swap his Playstation games. He might try getting new games that way. Sometimes having a friend over is not really more work, but less work as they keep each other entertained. He can then play basketball, baseball, or ride bikes, etc.

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July 9, 20070 found this helpful

It is vitally important in the development of boys to be forced to find their own amusement. My parents did me a great favor by kicking me out of the house, saying it's a crime to sit inside during nice weather, and boredom turned out to be very wonderful in that it made me notice my world. I went for rambles, I found new friends, I made things from the natural materials (I remember a placemat made of grass stems). Boot him out and tell him not to come back for four hours, and give him a watch to come home on time. When you want to call him in from around the neighborhood, toot your car horn a predetermined code. Introduce yourselves to your neighbors so they can see him and recognize him. Buy him active toys like a frisbee or a dog or a chunk of rope. Let his imagination get some exercise! This boredom is his imagination crying for a chance to come out and play. Enjoy him at this age, they ask some great questions!

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July 9, 20070 found this helpful

Oh to be a kid again and have the whole day to play! What sweetness!

Sure he will be pleased if you want to play something with him and that's fine for some times but of course you have your own things to do too.

I dont recall ever being bored as a kid. If we ever complained Mom would say 'well if youre bored you can always go to the garden and hoe" It didnt take us long to find something that would make us happier.

Of course we lived in the country and I played for so many hours all by myself. Never got lonely. And my Mom just wasnt a lot of fun anyway.

I would think any kid could find a million things to explore.

Even in the city. And at home or at least in the neighborhood. I dont know where you live.

Some activity books like Annaid suggests. Or ask him to go out and study something. You pick or he picks. And ask him to find 20 things he can say about it. Or as many things as he can find.

I could spend hours watching a spider even. Show him how amazing his world is if he begins to look at it. Discovery is such a wonderful thing for humans and especially kids.

This is such a precious time for him, if only he can discover that. Many of us would kill to have the whole day to play just as we choose. All kids are incredibly creative with even the simplest of materials.

Let him find out, expand his mind, his world. What a lucky young man.

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July 9, 20070 found this helpful

Go to the library. Look for books to read or books that show you how to make stuff. I think there are books that show you how to make things with duct tape--he might like that.
Volunteer at an animal shelter or soup kitchen together.
Go to garage sales on Fridays.
Play board games.
Let him have some friends over.
Teach him how to cook a simple meal, then he can make it for his parents later that week.

A lot of learning can happen on a computer, especially with the internet. I don't understand why his parents let him play video games but not use a computer. If it's inappropriate content they're worried about, there are filters available to help avoid that stuff. I used a computer program called Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing to learn to type when I was about that age and that ability served me well through high school, college, and now as a teacher.

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By Diana (Guest Post)
July 9, 20070 found this helpful

Volunteer at local hospital or nursing home, etc.

"Rent" videos, play station games and the like at your local library free of charge

Condition for a sport-swim, run, lift weightd at your local school

find FREE entertainment in your neighborhood

Adopt an area roadway near your home and pick up the trash

Do something nice for a neighbor (walk the dog, weed their flower beds)

READ-I have my children read and write essays, book reports, etc and then "pay" them with spending money for new school cloths, Toss in a few treats too-like movies, icecreams, etc to make it less like school

Lear to cook-select a few dishes he enjoys eating. A woman loves a man who cah cook

Teach him to do laundry and to iron his own clothes

Have him wash your car

Learn a new craft

Have him clean your house-teach him the right way to do things (and then send him over to my house!)
Have fun with it and good luck!

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By Lynda (Guest Post)
July 10, 20070 found this helpful

I'm a 24/7 Caregiver, Home School Teacher for my 9 yr. old grandson, for 6 1/2 yrs. now. He has finally met a 11 yr. old boy in the neighborhood with whom he really gets along and is available to be good friends.

Their favorite thing to do is swim, make shaved-ice (Targets for under $20, good for parents ot buy him and leave at your house.)Using fruit juice/kool-aid for flavorings.

Rarely we go feed ducks stale bread crumbs, and fish at the local public ponds with worms. We enjoy
this and are very alert to strangers.

I don't encourage bike riding, for safety's sake., but using a small "sidewalk wooden bike ramp" to drive over saves the day.

Once I took them to toss the baseball, but not often.

This is the age when it's VITAL that they have friends, boundaries, a few things other boys have, and are allowed WITH PARENTAL CONTROLS to go to a few Internet sites, IF they are computer literate and competent: The Penquin
and KOL (Kids on line) are o.k.because they are SAFE.

I am VERY watchful and have not one single incident
to occur to him. I check for "LIVE moderators" and
strict rules before letting him "visit" on their KIDS' chat rooms.

They LOVE mechanical items, water balloons, and
renting videos from the Library. I've discovered a wide range of fun-LEARNING videos as well there.

Next, we go together to the .50 movie once or twice
a month, ONLY if a G or PG rated movie that I accept is playing. Oter times we go to the local skating rink, if his dad gives us money to do these extra things.

We also go to parks in AM or late afternoon. The reason it's so terribly important for them to relate to other boys at this age is because it's a rite of passage, a measuring of how they're doing in life, to them. House rules are expected and must be given
gently but firmly. I say, "In our house we ______, ______, ______, and I'm sure you will remember these things. Be positive and patient. I have a large
sand box, plenty of bird houses to watch, lots of trees to climb and plenty of the best snacks I can
afford/make that he likes as well. I watch for the least sugars/food colorings, most whole grains, a good variety, least junk snacks, NO candy except a small amount of Dark Chocolate, and a weekly trip
to get ice cream/sorbets/yogurt/OR $dollar burgers, all within 2-5 miles of home.

I have used riding toys, rollar blades, Legos, board games, plenty of silly putty(for some reason this age loves it!, and an old large t.v. in his room. He
has pets but doesn't like to take better care of them, since it's daily.

They like to paint on most anything, use small tools, use K'nex, and punch balls. These two aren't sports minded, nor is our family, so we enjoy the Summer without hot sports/grueling practices. They
seem to like exercise equipment and light weight-lifting. I have a good library but encourage this more during the Fall and Winter than Summer.

It's also a time when they like to push boundaries wtih sound effects they make, like whistling, laughing,giggling like older girls, telling/hearing funny jokes, stories, experiences, seeing funny photos, taking pictures(if you have a camera...), and reading magazines, especially for their age and interests. The big thing among them is Spider Man, and SuperMan.

They'd love to explore, but it's so hot and moist here that it seems much hotter. I don't force them to stay outside, but to comply the best they can with what we have, my rules, and to not raid the kitchen
of all I have to eat. I keep tuna, peanut butter/jelly, corny dogs, meatballs, cheap pizzas, and smoked turkey cold cuts for snacks, crackers,
oatmeal cookies, and sale chips/popcorn/occasional
sale fruits. One of my rules is that I need to know why they are in the kitchen, not just leave it open to them, both to budget our food, AND to remind them to keep their little grimey hands washed before handling foods, for their sakes and mine.

Occasionally I will play Monopoly, Battleship, Stratego, or other games, or take turns reading to each other, and praying twice daily.

I trust that God has urged my heart, helped me to raise this child properly while his parents continue to get their lives in order.

One thing I did when I was young was go house to house until I found a playmate each day. This is not only not acceptable in this neighborhood, but not during these dangerous days when even adults are being kidnapped and worse. A child needs only a couple of decent friends/playmates who meet parental and godly standards. If they have that they should consider themselves very lucky.

Good luck and God bless you. : )

I remind them occasionally that I am not only the grandmother in charge, but a teacher, older, wiser, and that God has placed them in my care for a reason. I guide their speech, activities, judgment,
boundaries, discipline, TV/music, and Internet experiences, but without oppressing them. If children have no strong faith/belief system, they will believe ANYTHING and more likely to get into serious trouble. I screen/get to know all friends/acquaintences, set strict time limits on visits, and give guidelines also on clothing/TV programs and content I will allow into my home, and into their heads. My rules are the typical:
If you open it, shut it.
get it out, put it up.
put it down, pick it up.
break it, tell me and offer to help repair it/help
hurt someone's feelings, apologize,
dirty it, clean it,

I have learned to delegate: You may ______, IF you
first have yourself groomed, fed, cleaned, dressed,
and your room straighted, pets fed/cleaned. You must be home by ______ and not leave _____unless you get my permisson. If you ever deliberately hurt someone/break or damage property, you will be punished according to the offense. If you curse or
deliberately do wrong, you will be punished properly,
usually grounding. If you miss the trash
can, or leave food out anywhere, whenever I do find it, you will be punished. If you simply learn to obey me, honor me by using your manners everywhere you go, and learn not to question every statement I make, and not to argue so much, we will get along fine.

I'm a Christian and believe children want and need boundaries, house rules, godly counsel, and less idle time. If they are bored, I find a chore for them to do. If my grandson does something in disobedience, I usually have him to write, "I will not
____." About 25 times the first offense, double should there be a second offense.

My grandson is learning to be a Junior Leader at church, but I do not FORCE him to attend, although I don't allow him to goof off on Sundays if he has
chosen not to go that weekend, like missing school because of some illness.

I don't know if all I've done is correct, but I am trying my best, with the help of God's Word and Holy Spirit.

Hope this helps in some way?

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Read More Answers

What is a good schedule for a mother with 2 kids starting with the morning time. I feel so tired and clueless on what I have to do when I wake up and throughout the day. What can I do to keep my kids busy and entertained? What is a good schedule to keep busy? My son is 9 years old and my daughter is 7 weeks old.

Michelle from EL Paso, TX

Read More Answers


ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

May 12, 2010

Summertime Activities for Your Children

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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July 28, 2008

My kids have no schedule. None. During the school year they did, but I have been EXTREMELY lax since the summer began. I need advice on making a schedule for them for the rest of the summer. They are 9 (going to 4th grade) and 7 (going to 2nd grade).

During the school year, they got up at 7:30, did their morning routine and rode the bus to school. After school, it was homework, dinner, showers, stories/snack, a little t.v. and then bed at 9. Mondays, once a month, were scout pack meetings and every week on thursday were scout den meetings. That has also let out for the summer and picks back up in September.

Right now, this is pretty much their (our) schedule. They get up whenever they feel like it, usually around 9 or 10. They eat/get dressed, then we leave to pick up my mom and go to the gym. After that we hang out at my sister's for a while or at my mom's. Then we come home in time for my hubby, around 3:30.

I make dinner while they play around the neighborhood with the other kids. I call them in for dinner when it's ready. (we use walkie talkies, lol) They eat dinner then go back outside to play until around 9:30, when they come in and take a shower, watch tv and hit the bed, with a movie in their room.

They don't read, they don't do the expensive computer games and workbooks we bought from school to help them prepare for school. I just don't know what kind of schedule to have or where to start. Can someone help me?



Summer Schedule for Kids

It sounds like they are having a good summer! Summer is meant to be relaxed and memorable. Are they having behavior problems? Did their teachers recommend extra schooling or computer games to get them ready for the next school year?

My eight year old son is in a book club that meets on Tuesday mornings and has a tutoring session on Thursday mornings for one hour but other than that he doesn't have a schedule. I have seen behavior changes in him if he watches too much tv (ie cartoons) so we limit his tv watching by using tv tickets. He gets 14 tickets for the week and each ticket is worth 1/2 hour of tv or 50 cents to be turned back into me. So, he could earn $7 for the week to spend or save up for what he wants. Most of the time he gets $4 or $5 for the week but he has to be inovative with his day, thus less problems. If you are wanting to start some type of schedule with them I would recommend that they go to bed earlier in the evening, wake up earlier and start the day with school review, just to keep their skills up. (07/20/2005)

By kris

Summer Schedule for Kids

Our schedule is similar but every morning Mon_ Fri she does some school work. Not lots just a few pages of Math & reading or language. She knows no TV or out until it is done. We start in August coming in a little earlier & getting to bed. Every week a half an hour earlier.(07/20/2005)

By Cau.

Summer Schedule for Kids

I agree, let them kickback. My only advice is once a week, visit library. Do something constructive and also not to let them get in the habit of sleeping in and in and grand daughter is allowed to sleep until 11-12 everyday and I HATE IT, I feel it breeds a lax and lazy habit with no initiative! As they get older you can add structured activities, swim team, tennis, rec-board activities to keep the initiative going! (07/20/2005)

Summer Schedule for Kids

Lucky children! Summer should be a no-routine time. They are building memories that will bring them enjoyment for the rest of their routine-driven lives. (07/21/2005)

By Josephine

Summer Schedule for Kids

Summer is for fun. You should be thrilled that are they are playing outside instead of being glued to the computer. Kids NEED to play! (06/06/2006)

By Kat

Summer Schedule for Kids

I like the idea of TV Tickets. I may try using that! I am the evil step mom that stopped them from watching countless of hours of tv every day and limited them to one hour....TV Tickets makes it more of a fun game for them, while also teaching responsibility.

During the first summer of being 'step-mom' I used a rigid schedule...I worked from home and they had been spoiled by grandma so much that they were unruly...they also had issues with too many video games changing their behavior, so I limited it to 30 minutes during school days and 1 hour during the summer.

They woke up and had breakfast at 8 and then got ready for the day, played outside, and then I had them do worksheets till lunch time. The worksheets I printed from online and they were grade appropriate for the coming year. I helped them minimally, but it was better to have them quietly ask me questions than the run around the house being noisy while I tried to concentrate (we had a very small house).

Then lunch, then they would watch some TV and play video games and then do chores. By that time I was done working and I would have them play outside or in their rooms while I made dinner...and occasionally they would help with dinner. The following year, the kids excelled at school and our 8 year old already knew all his times tables for 3rd grade before it even started. He aced his SOL's.

Now that we have moved to a bigger house, the kids are more in control, and there is more space for them to roam...they are used to playing more without video games and TV as a crutch, so I have been more relaxed but I did get them in a day camp for a week, took them to VBS at church for a week, they took swimming lessons one week, and they have been going to the library twice a week with their grandma and to the pool once a week, so she still gets to spend time with them. They also have free movies on Tuesday mornings at our local theater for kids, so she will at times take them there. That way they get out of the house and have fun, but also learn and behave.

The house is a lot more peaceful but if you're not a home-worker, all the time they spend with you is doing them good regardless. It's less time they have outside influences, and more time they learn the value of family, if they just do some workbook activities for an hour each day and maybe computer instead of TV at night, they will learn and enjoy it (kids actually thrive in structure and discipline - our 6 year old asked me for a summer schedule!) and they will definitely be leaps ahead of the other school kids the coming year...

Hope this helps! (08/06/2007)

By Kristi

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