by: Susan M. Jackson
A blend of structured and unstructured activities is good advice for summer activities for children. Structured activities reassure children accustomed to the structure of school. Some unstructured time allows children to discover their special interest and creative activities to stop boredom. Some children unthinkingly turn to smart phones, computers and other electronic media when bored, so parents should consider requiring some ‘unplugged’ time where only face to face interactions, reading and creative activities are allowed.
Appropriate summer activities will vary by children’s age. For preschoolers, continued enrollment in preschool, mother’s day out, Early Head Start or quality child care programs offers safe opportunities to play with friends and to continue learning over the summer. Public libraries provide story times for preschoolers.
For school age children the range of programs and opportunities is more extensive. Some options are Newton Recreation Center summer programs, community and children’s theatre groups, churches, public libraries, Bethel College and Kauffman Museum, Summer Latch Key and Summer Lunch Program.
Summer is also the time for swimming lessons and sleepover camps. For teens not yet ready to hold a job consider volunteer opportunities in the communities.
And do not forget 4-H that offers many opportunities to develop special interests and leadership.
For parents who must leave school age children at home for some part of the long days of summer, it is crucial to have clear rules, daily home activities and chores, regular
monitoring by phone and unannounced drop ins by parents to make sure that all is going well.
Parents of school age children also need to be aware of the importance of internet safety. Although internet safety is a year round issue, increased hours of unsupervised time in summer mean parents may need to be more vigilant. Parents should check their home computer internet browser to makes sure that it is not set to “delete browsing history on exit.”
Parents may also want to purchase software that blocks children and teens from accessing websites with inappropriate content. Similar options are available for smart phones and parents should consult with their phone service provider.
The months will fly by and before you know it, it will be time for school to start again. Make the most of your summer. Have FUN!