Guest post: by Dan Gilbert
How do you keep your child occupied during those long summer months without breaking the bank? That’s a question many parents find themselves trying to answer this summer. Luckily, Primrose Schools has some creative solutions to keep your kids mind active. Not only are these solutions aimed at keeping money in your pocket, but also to keep your child from facing those awful summer boredom blues.
A summer with no stimulated activity can lead to what Primrose refers to as the “brain drain” effect. Studies show that without stimulation, children can lose up to 60 percent of what they learned during the school year. To keep this from happening, Primrose Schools suggests to encourage imaginative play and have a plan in place to keep children engaged during the summer months.
“It’s important to keep children’s minds active during the summer, but it doesn’t take an expensive activity or big vacation to capture their attention,” said Dr. Mary Zurn, Vice President of Education for Primrose. “After all, imagination is free.”
These are some inexpensive ideas to have ready for those summer days when your child cannot seem to find anything else to do:
1. Beat the Boredom Jar: All you need is a jar, some paper, scissors, glue and markers. Encourage your children to share their own ideas and help you decorate and label a simple jar as the family “Boredom Buster Jar.” Next, write everyone’s ideas down on slips of paper and as a group decide which ones should go in the jar. Anyone in the family can pull any idea out of the jar to fight the summertime boredom blues. This activity should be done in the early days of summer and can last you all through the summer. You may even choose to do a boredom jar after the summer!
2. Art Treasure Chest: All you’ll need to gather basic art supplies–child safe scissors, glue, markers, tape, and construction paper. Put them in a special box along with empty boxes, scraps of foil and old buttons. Occasionally add a special surprise like chalk, stickers, or stamp pads so there’s always something new for the children to find. Even if you normally have these supplies around the house, it‘s fun for children to know that the Art Treasure Chest is just for them. They’ll probably have some good ideas of other household items that can be recycled to fuel their creative energies. This is another simple activity that can last an entire summer.
3. Summer Scrapbook: This is something that the whole family can participate in and will last all summer. All you need to do is get a spiral notebook, some markers or crayons, and some glue. Each family member can take turns adding what they this is a special memory. Add pictures, souvenirs and write a short description to go with each. Update as frequently or infrequently as you want! After the summer, everyone can enjoy the memories all over again!
4. Camping Out: Not all kids may be up for the idea of sleeping outside, so what better way to make them feel safe than sleeping in your back yard! Bring a backpack with a flashlight, some snacks, books and other sorts of activities along with a couple blankets and/or chairs to sit on. Sing, tell stories and have some fun! This is a great way for some family bonding.
5. Stories Alive: It sounds too simple, but reading is one of the most important ways to keep young minds engaged during the summer. Make it even more exciting by acting out the story! Use costumes and props to make the story come to life.
6. Family Performances: Break out old clothes or costumes and encourage children to make up characters and create a play to act out. They are the directors, actors, and producers. They can also make musical instruments out of pots/pans, wooden spoons, empty canisters and have a parade; or everyone can play along to your family’s favorite songs. By recording the performances, you will not only be able to watch them back right away for even more entertainment, but you’ll also be capturing a bit of family history everyone will enjoy for years to come.
7. Fort Building: Children love to build all kinds of structures–from small towns to large towers. Constructing forts or tents is an activity that can keep children focused and problem solving for hours. All the items you needed are found around the house–some chairs, cushions, blankets… and of course adult supervision.
8. Cookbook Fun: Have you ever shared your favorite cookbook with your children? Take it out and discuss what recipe is your favorite, then ask your child to pick out a recipe he or she would like to try. Cooking can be a fun and easy way to keep math skills fresh.
9. Listening Game: Lie down in the backyard, in the den or at the park and listen. This is similar to watching the clouds and naming the shapes, and it encourages everyone to slow down and focus on listening. What do you hear? Do you hear what I hear? Can you imitate the sound?
10. Scavenger Hunt: This is easy. Just make a list of household items, or items found outside around the house. Split into teams, or do it individually. This can even be a fun way to engage the neighbors. Everyone can participate!
There are a couple important things to remember when introducing your child to any type of activity; know that each child is different. Every child has his or her own personality, likes, dislikes, learning capabilities and skills. Instead of ignoring these differences, use them to modify and adapt each activity to fit the needs of your children. Many times, children say they are bored because the activity they were doing was either too simple or too advanced to keep them occupied for long. Activities should be fun and challenge what they know, but should keep in line with the interests and developmental levels of your children.
“Keeping children engaged with open-ended activities that stretch their imaginations during the summer months helps them develop their independence, creativity, and thinking,” said Dr. Zurn. “We want to help parents keep the “brain drain” at bay while their children play.”
So with these tips in mind, sit down with your family and make a plan for an engaging, imaginative and fun summer without any brain draining!
Submitted by Dan Gilbert on behalf of Primrose Schools. For over 25 years, they have helped individuals achieve higher levels of success by providing them with an AdvancED® accredited, early child care services and education. Through an accelerated Balanced Learning® curriculum, Primrose Schools students are exposed to a widely diverse range of subject matter giving them a much greater opportunity to develop mentally, physically and socially. Dan has written a number of articles on topics varying from bilingual learning to teaching the importance of volunteering.