Friday, July 27, 2012

Summer Boredom Busters

Summer is here and with it comes lots of fun, interesting activities that can keep any age busy. After 22 years as a nanny, I’m no longer surprised that the boredom blues hit at some point during the summer. Although this seems less of an issue when children are toddlers or preschoolers it is still a bump to get over. Here are some ideas for you that are kid tested, nanny and parent approved.

Balanced Schedule – Over scheduling can be an issue in itself producing an over tired or stressed out child. This is true of adults as well – if you’re over tired at the end of the day because too much was planned maybe it’s time to rethink the schedule. Sometimes older children’s view of summer vacation means lying around and “vegging out.” Too much free time can lead to listlessness and irritability. Get them involved in making plans, let them help with research, guide them by scheduling days for activities and days that are devoted to free time at home. So the key is having a balance of activities and downtime. Be sensitive to the needs of each child in scheduling activities.

Read All About It – Incorporating reading into your summer schedule can be a blast if you make it fun! Reading is great at any time and with all ages, but to make summer reading special, consider highlighting it each day.  Here is an idea that’s been successful for me to encourage and develop reading skills. Make a summer reading tree, a visual representation of reading progress. Each book read is recorded onto a paper leaf and attached to the tree branch. Information on the paper leaf includes the name of the book, author, child’s comments and their name. Even the youngest child can be involved – infants listen to books being read, toddlers chose their own books and attach leaves, preschoolers add reading sight words, early readers share the reading with an adult and school age children add reading independently. Follow up activities add to the reading adventure by planning craft or art projects, science, cooking, drama, and physical movement that all echo the book’s themes.

Neighborhood Summer Camp – This is an option for children of all ages and can be an alternative to a traditional camp program. Neighborhood camp can be planned for a few hours, a couple of days or longer. The camp can be centered at one home or several neighborhood homes. I’ve hosted a neighborhood camp over several years - I planned activities and set the schedule. Neighbors helped with gathering supplies and assisting in supervising children. We spent the majority of the time outdoors with access to shade and refreshments, and had a rainy day plan ready just in case. We had different themes each year, offered a variety of schedules over the years and shifted activities depending on the number and age range of the children. It was always a blast!!

Mixing things up throughout the summer helps to get over the boredom blues. Involve the children in plans and make a summer calendar together. Balance active and quiet activities each day, leave room for special outings and days to just chill out at home. Take photos of the summer activities and use them in projects with the children. Even serving meals and snacks outdoors (even breakfast) can shake things up.

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