As the school year ends, keeping children busy and happy, but still learning new things for the summer months, is a priority for parents. Depending upon what is available in your community, you may have lots of options or you may need to get creative.
Consider dividing learning activities into four types: Physical, Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual. Work on a combination of all four to nurture your child’s body, mind, heart, and soul throughout the summer. Physical activities build strength and stamina. Mental activities broaden the mind and expand your child’s range of interests. Emotional activities appeal to the heart and build connections with family and friends. Spiritual activities touch the soul and remind your child that he or she is part of a greater whole. Some activities fit in more than one category but try to offer a range of experiences that encompasses all four.
Here are some suggestions:
Physical – Build Strength
· Individual lessons in swimming, dancing, gymnastics, or a particular sport. For an inexpensive variation, get together with other parents and share your talents with the children as a group.
· Group exercise activities like a Mom and Me yoga class. To save money, get a CD from the library and have fun doing it at home.
· Family activities like camping, hiking, and biking.
· Check out the offerings at your local public library. Many offer reading incentive programs and on-site workshops for kids and parents.
· Explore local museums of art, science, and culture. Most offer a reduced rate for families on a specific day of the week.
· Consider taking some day trips to local historical spots where children can acquire hands-on knowledge of the events they learn about in school.
Emotional – Form Connections
· Special night – offer each child one night every week, to stay up with mom and dad for a couple hours, and enjoy special time – while siblings are off to bed and perhaps thinking of what they might like to do on their own night. Activities can be simple like watching a favorite TV show together complete with popcorn; playing a board game; getting or giving a manicure; doing an arts-and-crafts activity; or sharing a building activity using Legos, Lincoln Logs or Tinker Toys.
· Set up play dates with special friends. Notice how your child communicates and relates to friends. Discuss these relationships and offer suggestions – if asked – for improving their friendship-making skills.
· Cooking activities when your child might help to plan the family dinner menu and have an opportunity to make a part of it themselves, such as the salad or dessert.
Spiritual - Touch the Soul
· Take a walk in nature and discuss your personal sensory experience: sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell.
· Attend a religious or spiritual type of service or event and discuss the sermon or talk afterwards, to help your child understand how the message relates to their life.
· Volunteer together in the community to help those less fortunate or for a special cause.
Above all, enjoy the activities that you offer your child or choose to do with your child. As much as possible, spend time with them during the summer months. This shows that you appreciate them as a person and value the opportunity to spend time in their company.
Ellen Diana is a licensed psychologist, co-author of the Charge up Your Life Book Series and certified school psychologist with 30 years’ experience working with children, adults, couples, and families in schools and in private practice in Phoenix, Arizona. She has published a number of articles in scholarly journals on psychology and education, and co-authored five self-help books in the Charge Up Your Life series. Helping women to evolve into their best selves through personal growth and self-awareness is a passion of hers. Ellen raised three successful children as a single parent and so has special interests in mentoring other women in transition and helping parents to raise resilient children. Contact Ellen at firstname.lastname@example.org or through her website www.ellendiana.com