School is almost out, but when it’s out, do you start to answer affirmatively to one (or all) of the following questions?
Do your kids sometimes suffer from boredom in the summer?
Are you pulling your hair out trying to keep them entertained without putting them in front of the TV or electronics?
Are you tired of their whining when they feel there is nothing to do?
One solution that should be near the top of your list is reading, of course – getting them excited about books. A cartoon I saw recently put it in great terms which this generation can understand. It said that reading is like programming your brain with new software. And before you allow them to go unto devices that use real software, require them to read a certain amount of time or pages. To help them think about it (and hopefully become more interested in it) ask them about what they’ve read and have them catch you reading as well.
In addition to reading, another solution for a less boring, more fun summer for your children is putting together a Summer Fun Jar.
Steps to creating a Summer Fun Jar:
- Find a jar – any jar – with a lid on it (we use a quart mason jar) and label (decorate if desired) it the “Summer Fun Jar.”
- Give each member of the family, both children and parents, a piece of construction paper of a different color and have him or her cut it into strips.
- Have each person write down a few things he or she would like to do during the summer. Decide beforehand the exact number each person will be able to write, based on how many you want to do per week and how many weeks you want to do the fun things listed on the strips in the jar. For instance, you could do two per week and figure the number of weeks our children will be out of school as the number of weeks long it will go. The things you write can be really simple or a more grandiose. If the things you’ve listed are more simple, that will lend itself to being able to do more things each week, but if they’re more grandiose, obviously that might make doing things less possible. Examples could include the following:
- A family pool day
- A trip to a local museum
- A family bowling trip
- A hike or picnic in the mountains
- A night camping in the backyard
- A day trip to one of your favorite locations
- Whatever you do, don’t tell the others in your family what you write. Part of the fun is the anticipation and surprise of what you will do each week!
- When you have the jar put together, just before summer begins, appoint a day each week you will draw the pre-specified number of slips from the jar to tell you what you will be doing that week. Take turns as a family drawing the slips from the jar each week, so everyone feels included.
- The family member who pulls the slips should read what’s on them, then make a plan for when you will do the activities that week and look forward to doing fun things each week of the summer! NOTE: If there are times you don’t get to an activity or two during the week, just carry over those activities into the next week or put them back in the jar to redraw during a later a week.
- At the end of the summer, make a photo book that includes pictures and little descriptions of what you’ve done. Not only will it be fun to reminisce while putting the book together, but it will also be a source of positive nostalgia for years to come!
A VARIATION: Instead of a jar, you could make a poster with a list of fun things you want to do and check them off as you do them. However, that takes away the surprise!
With an emphasis on fun summer activities your children had a stake in brainstorming, your summer will be filled with positive anticipation and many memorable moments, and hopefully less boredom, less whining and less time spent watching TV or on electronics.