While most parents relish the thought of not having to get the kids off to school, summer break has challenges of its own. Having the kids home for summer may make for relaxed days, but keeping the kids from being bored while keeping their minds active is not an easy task. However, with a little planning and a bit of “out of the box” thinking, it can be done. Here are a few ways to keep kids learning during summer break.
Take Advantage of the Outdoors
Using the good old outdoors is a great way to keep kids thinking as well as active. There are so many activities in the great outdoors that can expand a child’s mind.
The beach – Going to the beach does not have to be an entire day spent in the water. Explore and investigate marine plants and animal as well as the “land” or sand. Have your child plus one or two of their friends to search for “treasure”, which could be a specific kind of shell or other item. Encourage the kids to build sand castles or sand sculptures. There is a knack to doing this so you may need to supervise and assist a bit.
Depending on what you plan to do at the beach, you may want to give the kids a bit of background about the environment or extend their existing knowledge with the help of books, movies or a visit to an aquarium. This can be done before or after the trip.
Camping – If you have never gone camping before, taking your kids while they are little is a great way to engage their bodies and their minds. Camping takes a lot of preparation and some effort as well. Have your kids fully participate in the packing up and purchasing gear. Take your kids to the local library and grab some camping books so they can read up on the subject. If possible, relate camping to a personal story, experience or something historical. It will make the activity more relevant for the kids.
You may want to have them pitch a tent, gather firewood and discover what kind burns best, help with cooking or preparing the meal, and so many other things. For older kids, you may want to have them come up with solutions to problems by getting them to brainstorm answers to “What if you didn’t have (fill in the blank)?”
Picnic – Take your kids on a picnic and perhaps a boat ride. Bring along an educational game to play while picnicking – perhaps a good old-fashioned game of chess, checkers, or a board game that involves critical thinking. The kids do not have to know that these games keep their minds engaged; just let them think it is a fun idea to play board games in the park.
There are probably many educational and fun sightseeing options in your town or a neighboring town. It is not uncommon for local residents to overlook tours and options that are literally at their fingertips. Make sure you check out what is in your own “backyard” before going to a different county, state, or region.
Museum – A trip to your to visit a well-known museum is a learning experience but also fun. Check with the museum to discover other opportunities and programs they offer. Don’t limit yourself to the large museums. You can find some very interesting things at the smaller, local, or “off the beaten path” museums.
Historical Home – Taking a trip to a historical home can be fun and educational as well.
Arboretum or Botanical Garden – Introduce children to a variety of trees and other plants by visiting an arboretum or botanical garden. Depending on the facility, you may also find that they have info about additional subjects such as, geology, life sciences, and environmental studies.
Planetarium – Going to a planetarium sneaks science in on kids while giving them tons of fun. Your local planetarium may offer a “movie”, tours, as well as exhibits. They may even offer a summer program for the kids. Be sure to check their schedule each year to see what is offered since the topics and options can change frequently.
Note: Even if your child has visited some of these places when young, revisit them when the kids get older stressing a different goal or focus. Their level of understanding, perspective, and background knowledge has changed since that first visit and they often come away with a more in-depth understanding .
These are just a few great ways to keep kids entertained while exercising their brain. Check out your local and regional options to discover even more.
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