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Summer Activities That Keep Your Child Learning

Relaxing on the beach

Planning an entertaining and educational summer experience for one’s child can be stressful.

Between our own expectations, certain messages we get from the media, and the peer pressure of keeping-up-with-the Joneses, I think that many parents put more pressure on themselves than is necessary when it comes to planning an affordable, fun, safe, and productive summer for their kids. Likewise, our kids are getting hit with those same messages and pressures – especially as they get older, there is a sense that more, bigger, newer, farther, longer, and faster are going to keep them well occupied and happy.

But is that really true?

Be honest….What are some of the most positive and meaningful moments from your childhood summers? What are some of the summer endeavors that as a kid you or your parents thought were going to be fantastic, but ended up being a big disappointment or frustration? I find that the old adage about buying a child a new toy only to find that the child has more fun with the box that the toy came in, holds true in many circumstances. What’s currently popular might not be preferable, and what’s considered grand might not be that great. Simple activities that speak to the essence of who a child is, are often the most enjoyable, inspiring, and educational experiences that we can provide.

It was during the summer months just a few short years ago that we started Chase’s blog and cooking show. Just Chase’s vision and recipes, and my camcorder. What is your child gifted at or truly interested in? What might your child appreciate or need, but hasn’t explored yet? The school year can be stressful for kids. What might refresh and relax your child? What does your child crave – physical activity, social interaction, the spotlight, a hands-on creative outlet, an intellectual challenge, quiet time alone, etc.?

What about expenses? What will your finances and resources realistically allow? And if necessary, are financial assistance and other resources offered for the particular activity you are considering? On the flip- side, maybe finances and resources are not an issue. But finding something that is truly meaningful for your child and family is more of a challenge. Maybe something like exploring your family heritage, and traveling to a part of the world that your ancestors are from, is the kind of summer that your family is meant to experience.

I mentioned in my first blog post that I am the 7th of my parents 14 children. Entertaining and educating a house full of kids at various age levels and with different interests, while on a very tight budget, isn’t an easy undertaking during any time of the year. But this did NOT mean that we children were left to roam the neighborhood streets and malls for hours and days on end. Quite the opposite! Mom had her own “Summer Program”, which included our daily chores; a system where the older kids taught the younger kids some of the academic lessons that were coming up for them in the next school year; summer reading lists of children’s books and classic literature – some of them she read to all of us out loud during the lunch hour, and others we read on our own; drive-in movie nights; BBQ’s at home, beaches or parks; playing in the sprinklers to keep cool and going to the public pool; visiting grandparents; church camps; free-time when we could choose our own kind of fun – sports, crafts, music…some of us even used that time to get dressed up and put on shows! HA! And when we were old enough, we got our first paying summer jobs.

If you are looking for inspiration, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Who are your contacts? What are your own gifts, and how can you use them to create a meaningful summer experience for your child?

Also, while you are making plans, remember that summertime is an excellent time to get children thinking about the needs of others. Volunteerism and developing a sense of caring for others is not something that only happens during Thanksgiving and Christmas. Giving is a part of learning to be a good citizen. Some children are naturally inclined to be helpful, but most need a nudge in that direction. And for children that are feeling a bit sorry for themselves or bored, getting them involved in making life better for others, is often a good remedy for that situation.

Whatever summer plans you make, remember that the season is short and passes quickly. So make it a time of encouragement that inspires your child with hope and confidence for the road ahead.

Together with her teenage son Chase, Mary Bailey is the co-creator of Chase ‘N Yur Face, a free online resource designed to inspire children and families to celebrate life—from the simple to the spectacular. In 2014, Mary made the decision to step down from her corporate job in order to home school her son who, as a toddler, was diagnosed with autism. Today, the single mom and entrepreneur creates her son’s curriculum which revolves around his love of cooking. Through this journey, her goal is to help Chase become a self-sufficient adult, as well as to establish a foundation for people like Chase, who need a helping hand to make their dreams achievable.
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