How to Keep Your Kids Busy at Home This Summer
“No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks” is a common refrain once school’s out for summer, but this year, things are a bit different. Computers have taken the place of pencils, tablets for books, and parents have stepped in as teachers. With families cooped up at home due to COVID-19 restrictions, it’s not surprising there are dirty looks going around.
Without schoolwork as a distraction, many parents are left wondering what to do with their kids this summer. Although some daycare centers and summer camps have reopened, some parents may not yet feel comfortable sending their kids outside the home. Still others may have suffered financial loss due to the coronavirus. Yet all are left wondering how to keep their kids busy at home this summer. While virtual summer camps are an option, there are also other ideas out there that will keep your kids occupied and happy while at the same time preventing summer brain drain. Following are some ideas.
Start with a Plan
It’s been said that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Any parent facing a seemingly endless summer with bored kids can attest to this. So, it’s best to start with a plan. A good idea is to make a “Summer Bucket List” for your kids. Have them think of the places they want to visit, things they want to do, and food they want to eat. You can even download this free printable from Somewhat Simple to help you along. They also have a Bucket List Bingo game!
Keep a Routine
To many kids, especially older kids, the perfect summer means sleeping til noon and hours of endless TV. But to make things easier on parents, it’s best to keep to a schedule. This doesn’t mean your kids have to wake up at the crack of dawn, but it does mean their day should have a bit of structure, including waking up at the same time and maintaining consistency with meal times, rest times and play times. A schedule that includes set-asides for chores, reading and exercise can go a long way in keeping a [relatively] chaos-free home. To help you along, you can download this free printable summer schedule from A Blissful Nest to keep you and your family organized!
Learn Something New
Just because school’s out doesn’t mean the learning has to stop. Summer is the perfect time for your kids to learn a new skill. Whether cooking, a new sport, a musical instrument or a language, there are online programs that will keep your kids occupied while expanding their horizons. Some options to consider are Outschool, which has classes for kids of all ages ranging from photography to piano to sign language; Udemy, which has all types of virtual classes, from skateboarding to karate to public speaking; and Skillshare, which has classes in coding, cartooning and origami.
Take a Vacation
Not a literal vacation, of course. But one way to keep your kids occupied (i.e. distracted) is to take a “vacation” in your own home. Choose a country (Italy or China) or a general theme (beach, mountains) and plan a day around it. For example, decorate your home with pictures of famous Italian artwork, play Italian music, and serve Italian food. Or, plan a campout in the backyard, complete with campfire songs and s’mores.
While retreating inside to the chill of the air conditioner is tempting, summer is all about getting wet! If you don’t have your own pool, there are a few options to keep your kids busy AND cool at the same time. Inflatable kiddie pools and sprinklers are always an option, as are the traditional water balloon fights and a good old fashioned hose. But if you want to be the cool parent on the block, build a simple backyard spraypark from PVC and sprinkler heads like the one at Kreations Done By Hand. Or, check out this water obstacle course from Meaningful Mama.
If you’re looking to keep the kids busy for a couple of hours, why not plan a scavenger hunt for them? Depending on their age, you can send them on a backyard hunt (searching for items like pine cones or round rocks) or, for older kids, send them out into the neighborhood to find things like a yard flamingo or yellow front door. If you’re really feeling creative, you can even plant items in your own yard or throughout your neighborhood! You can find more ideas and download a scavenger hunt printable at A Little Pinch of Perfect.
There’s nothing that keeps kids going like a little friendly competition — especially if a prize is involved! If your kids like to build, why not set them up for a Lego building competition? You can pick a theme, such as space exploration or race cars, and give each child the same number of bricks to work with. Another option is using wooden blocks or Jenga pieces to see who can build the tallest tower without it falling over. Another fun project is to pick out random craft supplies and see who can come up with the best creation in a given amount of time.
Summer Reading Challenge
Another friendly competition that will keep kids engaged is a summer reading challenge. Adding incentives for chapters logged or books read (like candy, toys or extra screen time) can be a positive way to encourage reading. Happiness is Homemade suggests a summer reading challenge that includes things like reading a biography and reading a book with a red cover. The Sacramento Library also has its own summer reading program, where kids can logs the books they’ve read and earn prizes. For younger children, the library is also hosting virtual storytimes on Facebook Live and YouTube.
Put Them to Work
If All Else Fails…
If your kids are still bored, have them take a suggestion out of a bored jar, courtesy Somewhat Simple. The suggestions range from the fun (build a couch fort) to the not-so-fun (clean one toilet). If the situation is really serious, spin the wheel at this idea generator: What Should I Do Today?