I’m usually optimistic at the beginning of summer vacation. I envision a time when we read To Kill a Mockingbird aloud, teach fractions by writing in the sand and purge all our closets of outgrown (or “so last year” clothing).
Then a few days pass, and I panic about how much the television has been on and how many rematches that the video championship tournament of the world has expanded to. I find myself wondering if learning new makeup techniques from Youtube is all that beneficial.
Somewhere between our most lofty goals and simply morphing into the sofa is a healthy balance for us all. The cardinal rule is: have fun. After all, it is summer vacation. As you ponder what your family considers fun, here are a few ideas to get you moving:
1. Picnics and parks. More than likely, you have parks within striking distance that your family has never explored. Your children may discover uncharted (at least for them!) jungle gyms, swings and slides. A cooler of sandwiches, cut up veggies, cold drinks and something fun or junky to eat can change your perspective and theirs.
2. Libraries. Don’t overlook this free source of entertainment. A new selection of books can entice the most reticent reader, and some local libraries introduce a themed summer program with prizes and activities to encourage reading. When Olivia was 5, our local library hosted a tea party where girls could dress up and bring their special doll.
3. Community college or university camps and workshops for children. When Edison was 9, he participated in a cartooning camp at the local community college for a nominal fee. Not only do he have fun putting together his own comic books for the class, he had material and ideas to keep him creating long after the class ended.
4. Lessons and learning for the fun of it. Sometimes your child is interested in an activity that’s not easily worked into a school schedule. To keep from being too tied down, you might try a series for a limited time rather than the whole summer. For example, we signed our children up for swimming lessons at the local Y.
5. Vacation Bible School. A daytime or evening series can provide positive instruction, activities and entertainment. One church in our area would host a week-long music camp each summer and present a performance at the end of the week.
6. Museums, Planetariums and Science Centers. Save this one for the muggiest, hottest days when an indoor, air-conditioned activity is welcome. Check their websites for special activities for children. A star of our local science center was “Old Yeller” a huge corn snake that the kids would get their pictures made with. Batman – the local bat expert – was also very popular.
7. Community events. Watch your local paper for free or next-to-free activities – concerts in the park, dive-in movies at your local pool, etc.
In pursuit of the best summer vacation ever, don’t forget to have fun. Laugh hard and dance under the stars. Give them a jar for catching lightning bugs. Let them work out who gets the window seat. After all, the days of summer won’t last forever.
What are your plans for the summer?!