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 Summertime is fun time!

By Mark R. Todd, Ph.D., Director

As the school year wraps up, summer may appear to be an ominous mountain to climb.  You just spent two months with your children and wonder:  How will I keep them from overdosing on mindless electronics?  Video games or social media are not necessarily bad; however, they need to be balanced with other activities.

Here are several helpful ideas to make the summer go smoother.

Develop a routine/schedule  All of us feel better and are more cooperative when we know what is going to happen next.  Knowing what the upcoming events are can motivate us to finish what we are currently doing.

Spend time outside   A recent study found that children spend approximately four hours a week outside.  FOUR HOURS A WEEK!  Parents spent an average of eight hours a week outside.  That is a big shift to indoor activities.   Go to the playground, drive to a park, explore your yard, ride bikes, go for a walk.  Grow something: flowers, vegetables.  Look at the stars.  Watch the sky change as the sun sets.  Your child may resist anything that you want them to do that is out of their norm.  Ignore the complaining and try to not let it get under your skin.  Remember you are doing it to help them.  Children don’t always like what is best for them.  They may find it a little stressful being outside, because it is too hot or too cold.  Goldie Locks didn’t realize that it was important to be thankful that she had porridge.  I digress.  Many children resist change; however, if they regularly play outside, then they will begin to love it. 

Children learn best through play  They will learn about themselves, social relationships, and nature.  Your child may initially struggle with what to play but allow them to work it out.  They will eventually create a game or activity to keep themselves entertained.

Have fun!  Use this as an opportunity to blow off steam and have fun with your children.  Play tag or hide-and-go-seek, run thru the sprinkler, eat something messy outside.  Cook together on at least a weekly basis.

Schedule a quiet time in the afternoon   Give your child the option of reading, playing something quiet, or taking a nap.  Make sure you take the opportunity for quiet time also.

Promote artistic expression  Obtain chalk, markers, or paint and encourage them to create.  Don’t praise the result, praise the effort and exploration.  The goal isn’t for them to re-create the Mona Lisa but to try something new.  Save items from the trash to create a trash monster or other fun creature.

Read for fun  They may be shocked but reading can be enjoyable.  Let your child select books to read for pleasure.  Order books online, go to the library, or a share with a friend.

 What else can they do?

Here is a list of just a few of the websites that offer interesting activities for your children and teens.  Just click the link to see what is available.

ABC Mouse.  Educational Activities for children 2-8.  Free for the first 30 days.  The program is currently available for a discounted rate.  Colorful animations that are engaging, educational, and entertaining.  This site has a large number of learning activities.

 Fifty Fun Activities for Children

Does your child enjoy arts and crafts? contains a wealth of printable worksheets, online games, guided lessons, and lesson plans for preschoolers through the 5th grade.  Some are free, some you have to pay for.

Staples Connect provides a list of paid subscriptions for a wide variety of activities and learning experiences.

What about  teenagers?  When I first looked at this website I thought these items don’t seem to be too appealing, but as I continued to look I found a number of hidden gems.  What teenager wouldn’t like to make a set of monster jaws.  You can learn how to braid hair, fold origami, or find a free SAT practice test.

Variety is the spice of life.  I hope these activities make this summer better for your child (and you too).