It’s well known that videogames are an easy way to offer your kids some entertainment. In the summertime, it’s best to encourage them to be active and enjoy the great outdoors. This stimulates the mind, offers physical health and encourages independent, motivated thought. Recent studies have suggested that its better to allow your children to get bored, particularly in the summer, as it encourages them to entertain themselves and develop skills in self-reliance.
This, of course, is easier said than done. But instead of being their source of entertainment, offer them suggestions on how they can do this themselves. They’ll enjoy the independence and feel that they are growing and developing in their own way.
One sure fire way of giving them that level of independence is by suggesting they organize their own backyard camp out. This is an ideal activity to start. Kids love camp outs because it’s (kind of) on their own terms. For parents, it’s a great way to get them outside, give you some space, and also keep a safe eye on them as well.
Your level of involvement is totally up to you. Give them some ideas, like roasting marshmallows and telling ghost stories. If you’re going to suggest a bonfire then you need to keep an eye on things. Help them organize the fire and show them how to safely roast their treats. Once you’ve done this, demonstrate that sense of trust and keep an eye on them from a distance.
One of the best aspects of a backyard camp out is that your children can always come inside if they aren’t the keen outdoors types. But this is a great way to introduce them to nature and camping, something that as a family you can enjoy for years and years. The National Wildlife Federation created the Great American Backyard Campout to encourage families to bond together over the campfire. Every year, thousands of families have a backyard campout and connect and talk, which, sadly, is something that’s slipping through our fingers by way of TV and the Internet.
Organize some volunteer work for your kids. This might not necessarily be their idea of a good time, but it will certainly teach them compassion for others, and begin a sense of obligation to help their community.
Volunteering activities like feeding the homeless might be a bit intense to begin with, but helping the elderly or some form of community service will give them a sense of well being when they see that they’ve made a difference in benefitting their surroundings. If they truly take to this, it will shine through in all other aspects of their life as they grow older.
Learn a new instrument
As parents, we love introducing our kids to our favorite bands; The Beatles are always a popular choice. Many kids will go through phases of learning drums or guitar.
It’s important to nurture these interests. You can get a cheap guitar from a range of places. If your kids are starting to develop a taste for rock and roll or the blues, encourage it.
Almost every adult wishes they were a master on the Stratavarious or be able to sit down behind the piano.
It’s hard to attain a high level of ability in music without having started at a young age, so offer your kids a chance to really master their instrument and get them playing early. Some initial lessons are a good idea, but after a while, it may be best to teach and train yourself with an instrument. Or you can take advantage to all the content on YouTube or even online classes which is probably the best way to learn guitar online.
Put on a play!
Obviously we don’t all live in parts of the world where summer means eternal sunshine. Some of us have to deal with rainy days. And this can be something of a nightmare when entertaining kids.
A good idea is to have them construct a stage in the living room or another big room. This might instill a passion for construction, but the best part is having them act out either their favorite movies, or better yet, write and direct their own play.
This can introduce them to writing and acting from an early age. And kids love being the centre of attention, so after a few rehearsals, try find an audience for them, or have them put up some posters around for local friends to come and watch!
Water Balloon Fight
If they’re no camping enthusiasts you might have hoped for, there’s plenty of other activities to stimulate their minds with. One of the best is a water balloon fight.
On those dry and hot July afternoons, why not get your swimming shorts on and organize two teams for a playful battle. You can do this in the comfort of your own backyard or take them to a local park or reserve. It’s obviously very cheap and it gives the kids a chance to burn off all their energy.
To really stimulate them, allow them to make their own teams and even organize their own tactics. Blend other games, like capture the flag, into the equation. This makes it competitive and develops early leadership skills.
Other fun water-based activities include making a slip and slide, filling the paddling pool or simply playing in the sprinkler. Turn the whole garden into an interactive water park.
Free summer activities
If you’re living in a city, there are loads of free activities that you can bring the kids along to. Concerts, theatre performances, and outdoor movies… these kinds of activities might awaken a passion in your child that perhaps they might not have discovered otherwise.
Introducing your kids to literature, cinema, music or theatre at an early age offers them the chance and time to excel at something that can take decades to develop as a skill.
If you’re living further from the city and closer to nature, make the most of it. Introduce them to bird watching or develop an interest in insects and general wildlife.
If you’ve introduced them to camping in the back yard, take it a step further when they’re a little older and suggest they take the tent out for a weekend of exploring nature and bird watching. Buy an introductory book on birds in your area and help them learn about what they might see from a camp out.
Take a drive out of town (or to your nearest park)
Taking your kids on little road trips to the wilderness. For some that might look like a few minutes in the car until the paved road turns to gravel, and for others it may look like driving or biking to the nearest park. Exploring a stream, running on a large expanse of green grass, or just laying in the shade of a big tree watching the clouds pass by are wonderful ways to inspire growth and development in your children.
So if you’re growing concerned about how to keep your children entertained over the summer holidays, make them do it themselves! Introduce them to outdoor activities that they can enjoy with or without you and develop independence at a younger age, a skill that will stick with them for life, and ultimately make them happier, more active people.