Kids love summer, for them it means freedom from having to go to school and be stuck in a classroom while they’d rather be outside, playing with their friends and letting their imagination run loose.
During this season they get to eat ice-cream, they don’t have to wake up early so they can go to sleep a little later and watch movies until they fall asleep on the couch. They can make some extra money by getting a summer gig like washing the neighbor’s car, mowing lawns or building a lemonade stand, they get to go to a swimming pool a splash to their heart’s content.
In short, they get to relax and have fun.
Unfortunately, there’s also this thing called “summer slide” – kids who don’t engage in any sort of academic activities during summer break tend to forget some of what they learned at school, such as reading and math skills. Once they start classes again, they’ll also have problems staying focused, organizing their tasks and completing their assignments which adds to the feeling of dread some of them associate with the beginning of a school year.
To help them keep their minds sharp, there are a few activities you can encourage your children to partake in without asking them to do extra homework.
Getting a kid to read during summer is indeed a hard sell. But that’s mostly because they see it as homework, as a chore, not something that can actually be enjoyable. You could ask them about subjects they’re genuinely interested in, take them to a bookshop and pick out some books together. They don’t have to read classic literature to improve their reading proficiency and vocabulary. Whether they like dinosaurs, outer space, cars, boats, dogs, the interior design of castles or expeditions to exotic places, you can probably find a book with lots of pictures and start reading it with them before bed. If you manage to make them curious, they’ll start reading on their own because they can’t wait to learn more about their favorite subjects.
Summer camp is another great way to help your kids learn new skills during summer while also having a lot of fun. Do we need to mention the added benefit of getting some time for yourself?
Nowadays they have summer camps designed specifically to cater every child’s interest so if you found out what they’re into while trying to show them the joys of reading, now you can find a summer camp that will allow them to meet other kids who share their passions.
They also get to learn important skills like team-work, leadership skills, healthy competition even some entrepreneurial insight, it depends where you take them. There are even camps that teach kids engineering.
If you’re also from Brooklyn, there are lots of options for day camps as well. Maybe your little ones are not quite ready for sleepovers but you’d like them to stay social and active. Summer camps in Brooklyn NY are quite varied in the programs they offer. You can find camps for very athletic kids that feel the need to stay active, they can learn how to swim, play football, basketball, baseball, bouldering, gymnastics, yoga etc. Lots of options. If your youngsters are more artistic, there are camps for that as well, if they’re more interested in technology… you guessed it, there’s a camp for that!
It’s important to get your kids involved in the community and teach them how they can make a difference in the world around them.
No matter how little they are, they can still learn empathy, compassion, responsibility, tolerance and gratitude. Kids that are engaged in volunteering activities are more likely to continue on this path when they grow up. They become much more appreciative of what they have when they realize that others might not be as fortunate as they are and what impact that can have on their lives.
The best way to get them interested is to lead by example and join a volunteer program as a family.
Every city has a volunteer center where you can find out about available programs and match them to your children’s age and interests. You can also make inquiries at your local church or temple or just do some online research.
Once you’ve decided on a project, tell your kids about it and explain to them why you want to get involved yourself and why it’s important to you that they join you.
There are lots of options available: donating food, visiting a nursing home, helping to clean up a community center, delivering meals to people that are homebound or lending a hand to one of the animal shelters in your area.
What’s most important is that volunteering teaches kids what it’s like for other to depend on them and the satisfaction of investing some of their own time and energy in making the lives of others just a little bit better. They’ll realize what it takes to provide for someone and the time spent together can be a powerful bonding experience.
Schools, unfortunately, are known for their tendency to stifle creativity and passion. This can have a negative impact on a child’s self-esteem and outlook on life. You don’t want them to hate the idea of growing up and start thinking that being an adult is all work and no fun, just demands on top of demands with no time for anything else.
The hobbies they start today can turn into career opportunities later on and they won’t associate learning with something that you “have” to do so authority figures will stop scolding or nagging you.
A child can’t become ambitious and competitive about something he or she doesn’t care about. When they’re naturally engrossed in something, like drawing, writing stories, playing an instrument, crafting and so on, they’re more likely to want to set goals for themselves and you can teach them how to organize their time and keep motivated in order to achieve those goals. This helps them develop grit and you need grit no matter what you decide to do later in life.