[5 MIN READ]
In this article:
- Summers can be stressful for working parents, especially if summer camps are too expensive or difficult to coordinate.
- We offer 11 ideas for ways you can give your kids healthy things to do this summer.
While summer is a welcome break for children who have had a particularly stressful year in school, it can seem a little … long … for working parents who want to keep their kids occupied with activities that are healthy and fun. Yes, camps are an option, but they’re expensive, and you may want to find ways for your kids to spend their time that are more affordable for your family.
Summertime is an opportunity for parents to contribute to their children’s overall mental and physical health. You can help your kids keep their academic and social skills sharp without breaking the bank.
Stumped for ideas? Here, we offer you 11 tips for a healthy and happy summer:
- Challenge your kids to complete the Presidential Youth Fitness Program. When COVID-19 forced most schools to close, the nation’s leading youth fitness program adapted by including online offerings. The program (which your kids may already have participated in at school) includes push-ups, squats, a sit-and-reach test and a running test. If your children like being active, they can complete the tests to see how they measure up.
- Encourage your kids to read at least 20 minutes a day. Summer reading programs at libraries are a great encouragement to continue reading and avoid the “summer slip.” Challenge your kids to set aside a small amount of time every day to read the book or magazine of their choice. If you have time, try reading aloud every day, too. Even older children love hearing stories, rather than just reading them.
- Spend time at the library. You may have received information about your local library’s summer reading program and special events for children. But why stop there? If you live close to other towns, there’s nothing stopping you from checking out their programs, too. If you do a little research, you could find activities for every day of the week, simply by checking out libraries’ offerings.
- Cook with your children. Former chef at Providence St. Vincent, Chef Tse, offers tips and recipes for cooking with kids. When your children are involved in menu planning and preparation, they’re more likely to try different, healthy foods. They can also get an up-close-and-personal look at the ingredients you use in their favorite dishes. Turn healthy eating into a fun adventure for your family!
- Visit a children’s museum without leaving your house. Whether they offer early childhood activities or hands-on experiments, children’s museums are a big hit with many kids — and they can help them learn so much. Hundreds of cities (and even some small towns) boast a children’s museum, and now your child can have those museums’ resources at their fingertips. Find a Children’s Museum connects you with several hundred children’s museums around the world that offer online programming. Each entry offers links to the museum’s social media accounts and a brief description of what’s available online.
- Bring on the water games! Not only are homemade water toys fun on a hot day, but they can also provide your kids with a creative outlet to practice their fine motor skills. You can use an empty two-liter bottle and duct tape to make this homemade sprinkler. Half the fun is poking the holes!
- Find a new twist on bubbles. Rather than using store-bought bubbles, ask your kids to research online how to make their own bubbles. Challenge them to accomplish different tasks with the bubbles, such as making them colored, making them smell good and causing them to come out of a paper towel holder. There are plenty of other ideas online for out-of-the-ordinary bubbles, such as frozen bubbles.
- Get outside. Are your kids grumpier than usual? It could be because they aren’t spending enough time outside. Researchers have found that ultraviolet radiation from the sun releases endorphins in your body, which are ‘feel-good’ hormones.” Your child should be spending at least 30 minutes every day outside to keep their endorphins high. Of course, they can do anything outside, including reading a book on a hammock. But being outside is also a great opportunity to get some physical activity so they can stay healthy and strong.
- Turn TV into a reading exercise. We know it’s hard to keep kids away from screens during the summer. But here’s a great way to exercise your kids’ brains while they’re passively sitting in front of a screen: Turn the sound off and tell them they will need to read the captions if they want to know what’s going on. Your kids will get screen time and reading time all at once!
- Have fun with pool noodles. These wonders are among the most versatile of all children’s toys. Children can use them for safe sparring matches, obstacle courses (just use duct tape to turn them into circles for stepping through), crafts (did anyone say pool noodle wreaths?), turn them into horses for equestrian races around the yard, or even homemade basketball (just duct tape your pool noodle hoops to a closet door).
- Set up a lemonade stand. There’s a reason why this idea is a classic — it helps your children develop social skills (they have to work with customers), math skills (they need to come up with a menu with prices and make sure their accounting is correct), cooking skills (with a little supervision, you can encourage them to make the lemonade on their own), and creativity (they will need to make their own sign and come up with ways to attract customers).
With a little creativity, you can find ways to keep your kids occupied (and your sanity in check) this summer without breaking the bank.
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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.
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