Activities that Await Children of All Ages This Summer

With school vacations right around the corner, parents may be wondering how to keep their child active for the summer. Thanks to the Internet, with a little research it is possible to plan a day’s activities in advance. While cities vary in size, most contain the following activities in one form or another. As with any program, it is best a parent investigate the cost, location, supervision (adult to child ratio), and emergency procedures to ensure the activity is a good fit for the family.

Libraries – Libraries can be a good source of continuous summer activity for children of all ages. Some offer a weekly “mommy and me” story hours for pre-school and below aged children, while others offer a school age program where children’s favorite storybook characters come in costume for a day of reading, arts and crafts, and other activities. If your child is a pre-teen or teen, many libraries allow student volunteers in the summer to assist with library operations. Moreover, if your child attends a school that requires volunteer hours as a prerequisite to graduate, this would be a good opportunity. In addition, many larger cities offer a “Ride to Read” program, which allows students to utilize public transportation in order to get to and from the library. It is best to check with your library or city’s transportation department for program availibility.

Public Parks – In larger metropolitan areas, city parks offer great programs to children of all ages. Many offer summer camps, which focus on activities associated with the amenities at that particular park. For example, if you have a child who is interested in golf, a summer camp at a park with a golf course is a great choice. Children can learn more about the sport and decide if they like it and desire to pursue it further; while parents can save money and not have to purchase equipment, in case their child would rather pursue another sport. If a summer camp is not an option, but the park has a swimming pool, consider buying a family pool pass for the season. Passes can be more expensive in the beginning, but usually pay for themselves after a few visits. Another plus to using a pool at a public park is that there are trained lifeguards supervising pool activities, to ensure the public’s safety and to provide emergency services in case of an accident.

Museums – Many museums have summer programs for students of all ages. If a summer program is not feasible, it is good to go on a prospective museum’s website and see if they offer any discounts. Some have a section where coupons can be printed; others have a particular day set aside to allow students admission for free. Another option is to ask at the front desk when purchasing tickets. Military discounts, AAA, and Senior Discounts may apply. For older children, some museums allow students as young as eighth graders to become volunteers. This is a particularly good experience if your child has a particular occupation they want to pursue in life and wants to gain some experience in a field. Possible areas of interest include: arts, humanities, architecture (galleries of art), history, sciences, technology (museums of science and history), and history, archaeology, anthropology (historical societies). As previously stated, teen volunteers may be able to acquire volunteer hours for their services provided during the summer.

Zoos – Zoos are a great option for families, not only during the summer, but for the whole year as well. Many zoos offer a “Safari Camp” during the school breaks throughout the year. This is a great opportunity for children to learn about animals, and a wonderful stepping-stone for students who may be interested in Zoology or Veterinary Medicine. Older children and teens may be interested in a “Safari Sleepover”, which is a sleepover with animal presentations indoors (think Jack Hannah). Zoos are also a great place for families of all sizes. Many allow children under 2 free admission, and offer memberships based on family size. Memberships allow unlimited admission for a year, and can be sometimes purchased at a discount (military, senior, AAA, zoo promotional membership drive). If in doubt about who will be taking the children to the zoo this summer, try to purchase a membership that has a guest pass to allow a grandparent, babysitter, or family member to accompany your children.

Stay at Home, Make Money! – With the school over, it may be a good idea to catch up on some housekeeping. If your child has clothes, toys, or other items he or she has either outgrown or does not play with anymore, make some money. A great idea would be to go through your child’s room together and select items for possible resale. If parents have other items in the house they wish to sell, consider having a yard sale or Ebay the items. If having a yard sale, invite children to participate by having them work as greeters, baggers, or by assisting customers. A possible motivation would be to allow them to keep half of the money they earn off the sale of their items to themselves, while banking the other half in the college fund.

Assign “fun” jobs – Now that kids have more time on their hands, summer is a great way to gain some practical experience in life. Children learn how to count money in school, but parents can really show children what it is like to know the “value” of money. A great idea for younger children would be to assign them the job of coupon cutter. Bring the child to the store, and have them find the items that you selected using the coupons. A possible reward could be to use the extra money saved to get your child a treat that they want. Keep a log of the money you have saved over the summer. It’s a fun way to see how fast money adds up, and a great way for a child to contribute to the family. On the other hand, older children can take on more challenging assignments. Assign them lawn care (whichever chore you feel comfortable with them doing), car washing, or other miscellaneous chores. If possible, offer them a small wage to teach them about employment and wages. Encourage them to do their best, because others may take notice of it, and offer to hire them for small jobs. Most of all encourage volunteerism. With a parent’s permission, an elderly or disabled neighbor may need some assistance with lawn care, carrying groceries, or walking the dog. Getting a child to do service work, not only builds character, but also allows them to gain trust and mutual respect for everyone.

Get a job – Teens always seem to need money, but tend to come looking to mom and dad first. It would be great for parents to get a temporary reprieve from being their teen’s ATM if they had a job. With a parent’s permission, teens can find work along side their parents as summer interns, at churches as Vacation Bible School assistants, or they can work in a retail establishment. For older high school students, the American Red Cross offers lifeguard preparation programs, which train teens as lifeguards. This certification is invaluable if your teen wishes to pursue this area of employment. For middle and high school students, parents come to the decision that babysitting is allowed as a job, and then it is advisable that the child enrolls in a “Safe Babysitting” program offered by some hospitals. It is usually presented to children age 12 and over and teaches CPR, First Aid, and other child care skills.

Whichever activities you and your child can partake in, it is best to always be flexible in your plans. Summertime considerations such as heat and afternoon showers can limit your plans for the day. It is best to try an outdoor activity in the morning while it is cooler, and plan for something indoors in the afternoon or on a stormy day. In the end, your kids will enjoy themselves no matter what you do, and the invaluable family time and experiences that make up the summer will live in your minds forever. Enjoy your summer!

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