When faced with any sort of unstructured time, children are likely to get bored. They are also likely to let you know about it often! Summer is meant to be a time for rest and relaxation but also for exploring and education outside of the classroom. Here are some ideas for keeping your kids happily engaged this summer.
Have a scavenger hunt in the house on a rainy day. Vary the clues depending on your children’s age. For younger children, use clues such as “Go to the room where you take a bath,” or “Go to the room with the blue walls.” For older children, use clues such as “This is the room where Dad watched the baseball game last night,” or “Find the room where Mom likes to read quietly.” The prize can be a gift certificate to a local bookstore or a new game the family can play together. Make sure everyone gets a prize or that it’s a team effort and everyone works together to find the prize. If not, you’ll be hearing “Not fair!” instead of “I’m bored!”
Have a backyard camp out. Bring sleeping bags, tents, and build a fire. If you don’t have camping equipment, lay out an old sheet or blanket to sit on. Instead of telling ghost stories, have each family member tell a story about their favorite thing about your family. Don’t pressure your children to sleep outside, as they may be nervous or uncomfortable. Staying up late and having some special snacks is plenty fun! Just remember to use bug repellent so you don’t wake up with itchy campers in the morning!Use an old shoebox and create a special art box. Store all sorts of “extras” inside: buttons, scraps of paper, ribbon, washable markers and glue. Allow your children to create their own masterpiece on a piece of construction paper using all the materials inside the box. Make sure the items in the box are things your child can use independently. This way, your children can sit at the table and work while you make dinner or throw in a load of laundry. You can also use old magazines and cut out pictures to tell a story or re-create a family event.

These are just a few fun things you can do with your family this summer. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and try something new. You can always have a family meeting afterward to discuss the pros and cons of your new, adventurous outing. The important thing to remember is relax and enjoy time together as a family, regardless of what you are doing.

Jennifer is an educational consultant who works with families and educators to establish healthy and productive routines in the home and school. Adapting behavior management techniques she implemented for years as a special educator, she helps parents and teachers adopt these tools to fit their unique needs and priorities. Jennifer also speaks to parent and education groups on current topics in education and children’s health. Visit www.jennifercerbasi.com for more information.