In today’s world of electronics, children have gotten use to entertainment from behind a iPad or smart phone screen. While the portability of such devices are great, it doesn’t do much for our children’s health and wellbeing.
I admit the fact of having access to the universe’s knowledge at your fingertips is a phenomenal benefit, but it can also limit children’s social interaction. Do you remember as a kid, being told to come in from play when the street lights go on? It’s sad to think most kids these days don’t know what ‘play’ is. With summer in full swing and school out, it’s a perfect opportunity to harness the excitement and energy of the season and teach children the art of play!
We as parents want the best for our children. As they grow, we encourage them to explore, learn, and experience life. Summertime is when kids kickback and take a break from homework and school, but they do not have to take a break from learning! There is so much tangible discovery in the world of nature and activity. It is not in the best interest of our children or our lifestyle to allow them to veg the summer away behind a computer screen, video game or TV. These are good ‘rainy day’ activities, but when the weather is fine, we have an opportunity to spend family time together while keeping our children’s minds engaged.
As a parent, we can engage kids in activities that focus on their critical thinking skills while making it a fun, family time activity.
Here are a few examples of activities that are easy and enjoyable!
- Try collecting seashells at the beach or flowers in a field. Any type of collection strengthens a child’s ability to discern shapes and colors. This is an activity that you can share while your child is learning to sort and categorize.
- Spend an afternoon or evening where you play role reversal. Let your child read to YOU. Parents are usually the ones reading a story to their child, but children love an audience. If your child cannot read yet, let him/her tell you a story based on the pictures in a picture book. This enhances their creative thought process and verbal skills.
- Start each morning with a ‘word of the day.’ This is a great way to increase and strengthen both your vocabulary by exposing you to new words.
- Plan a savenger hunt in the park, the beach, or even in your own backyard. Encourage your children to find ‘interesting or unique’ items such as odd-shaped stones, pretty flowers, interesting birds, tress etc. As you locate and discuss them, you can get as detailed as you want including shape, color, textures and more. In fact, you can extend this to researching more about a particular item of interest to learn its origins, etc.
- Imagine! Kids possess a fabulous sense of imagination. Give them the power to create a perfect day or event – something they would like to do. Allow them to get detailed and try to make part or all of that image a reality.
- Children love to be helpful. Include them in your gardening or food preparation, washing the car or cleaning the dishes. Even menial tasks can become fun when you are sharing them.
For older kids, it is a great opportunity to engage them in what they are interested in. If it’s history, take them to museums or a historical reenactment. Cars? There are car shows, concerts, and a variety of gatherings that cover whatever their interest may be.
Keeping teenagers engaged is a way of keeping them fit. Participate in family football or baseball games; challenge them to a bike ride or walk.
Enter a race together. You Certainly Can Run! Explore the number of events offered for video games, comic books or other collectibles. All have a venue somewhere and keeps them moving. Travel is another awesome education. Whether it be out of state or local, kids can learn while exploring various cultures, demographics and traditions.