As a college professor I have the option to take off about 8 weeks during the summer. I look forward every year to spending this time with my kiddos. During the school year we are constantly running from one activity to the next. It is so nice to be able to relax and have some space in our schedule. That said, I get bored easily. By this point in the summer my kiddos are really starting to pick at each other. This is often a recipe for disaster. In this post I want to share some of my strategies to combat summer boredom and to keep those young minds nimble.
If it were up to my kids, they would watch TV/play video games all day long. Honestly, that would make my life so easy! I could get so much done while they were complete zombies. However, I don’t want to melt their little brains so we try to limit the screen time in our house to two hours per day. The american average is greater than 7 hours.
When I get up in the morning I need time to drink my coffee and get myself psyched up for the day. The kids often get up and immediately want to turn on the devices. One way that I manage to limit screen time is that I require my kids to eat breakfast, get dressed and spend sometime completing activities in summer bridge workbooks before they turn anything on. These can be found at your local bookstore or on Amazon. There are lots of options. I have one from Kumon, another from Sylvan Learning Centers and one from Brain Quest. I picked ones that corresponded to grade level and offered a variety of activities.
Visit the Local Library
I must admit, I do not use the library much at all during the school year. It is just too much for me to keep track of all the books checked out and stay on top of due dates. In the summer, on the other hand, I make a point to visit the library at least once a week. Most public libraries offer free summer activities for kids and my kids love to bring home new books to read. The variety helps us to keep reading all through the summer! One way to stay on top of the chaos is to have a designated place in the house for the library books. We have a crate where we keep all of our books so it is easy to grab on the way out of the house on library day.
Play to Your Strengths!
I am a microbiologist and I teach general biology classes. I purchased a small digital microscope that we have been playing with this summer, exploring stuff that we can find in/around our homes. I have also adapted some of the labs that I use with my college kids for home use. I’ll save the details of those experiments for a later blog post, but here are some of the things we found in the backyard yesterday.
Check out the Local Attractions
We are very fortunate to live in Central Florida. We have lots of things that we can do outside the house. Some are free and others are incredibly expensive (I’m looking at you Mickey). We have memberships to the local zoo and to the science center. We also try to visit some of the lesser known attractions. Last summer we went to Gatorland. That place is so awesome! It is a look into what we would call “Old Florida” complete with gator wrestling!
Documentaries/Online Learning Programs
21st century kids are constantly exposed to electronic media. I try to be intentional about the type of media that my kids consume. Sometimes I let them choose a cartoon or show from the offerings on Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, but there is so much crap out there! I prefer that they choose shows/activities that are learning centered. For my pre-Kindergartner I like StoryBots (Netflix). She has learned so much from it! The older kids will even watch it wither her.
My fifth grader loves Jonathan Bird. He makes documentaries about sea life that are freely available through his website or through YouTube. Here is our favorite episode:
We also subscribe to the Smithsonian Channel and there are tons of great documentaries available for streaming through Netflix, Amazon and YouTube.
What sort of activities do you do in the summertime? I would love to know!