3 Questions to Ask Yourself When Planning Your Child’s Summer Activities
The good news: spring is here, warmer weather is on the way and the school year will wrap up soon.
The bad news: the thought of figuring out your child’s summer activity schedule is overwhelming. Personally, I have had nightmares (okay…one bad dream, but still…) about summer camps filling up before I get my act together, leaving my child option-less/stuck at home/bored/possibly destructive for days on end.
Many summer camps and activities fill quickly, so being decisive — and slightly aggressive — may be necessary to get this deal done. The three questions below can help guide your summer-related decisions so you can settle this annual dilemma early and easily.
- What interests does your child have?
We all have activities that put us “in the zone”…those things we get so lost in doing that we loose track of time and may even forget to eat.
Our kids have those passions too!
The activities our children find absorbing may seem unusual to us. For example, my favorite where-did-the-last-two-hours-go activity when I was 7 was making dollhouses out of cardboard boxes. I built whole towns for Barbie and the gang. Interestingly, the problem-solving and creative aspects of that childhood interest continue to play out in my life and work, 30 years later. So keep your child’s passion projects in mind while planning summer activities. Would activities that focus on Lego construction, robotics, theater, music, creative writing, calligraphy, origami or nature be fascinating for your child? It may take some research, but there just might be summer offerings that will help your child’s interests bloom.
- Are there any areas where your child could use some help or additional practice?
Reflecting back on the school year, did your child struggle with a particular subject in school? Did any concerns come up during parent-teacher conferences? Summer can be a great time to get additional practice. Key considerations when you are looking to shore up an area of difficulty:
- Arrange for extra help to be in a setting different from the school environment. For example, if your child struggled with math during the school year, plan for summer math help to be in the form of small-group instruction or one-on-one tutoring over the summer. Many children learn to associate their difficult subject area and classroom instruction with frustration and discouragement. Working in a different atmosphere can help him get out of a negative thought rut.
- Building up your child’s challenge area should be just one piece of his summer schedule, not the majority of it. Kids need downtime, play and an overall well-rounded existence. Participating in activities that your child finds enjoyable and empowering will also help him recharge and focus when he does sit down to work on the tough stuff.
- Is there enough “downtime” included in your child’s summer schedule?
Boredom is GOOD.
Sounds crazy, I know.
But it’s true and there are plenty of studies to prove it.
Being bored teaches our children how to deal with unstructured time. Quiet time gives our children an opportunity to think and feel without the usual distractions. Given time to explore their own inner worlds, children tap into their own interests and desires. Today’s children lead fairly structured lives and are often entertained by electronics. These influences could, over time, make it harder for them to tolerate the absence of go-to distractions. Now is a great time for them to learn some strategies to deal with idle time.
BONUS: If your kiddo has been participating in activities that develop his interests (as discussed in #1, above), he may have good ideas on how to spend his free time.
Have you been a rock star when it comes to finding awesome summer activities for your family? You hereby have permission to brag! Leave a comment and tell the rest of us how to plan amazing summer experiences for our children.