If your kids attend institutional schools – or if you’re a homeschooling family that follows the typical school calendar – your kids are now “off” for the summer. In my city, it’s only been a week, but I know kids in other communities may have finished before Memorial Day. And, of course, you probably thought through at least some of your summer plans well before the season actually launched (i.e., you had to reserve the lake cabin and register for Vacation Bible School months ago). But what about all the days in between the family vacation and the kids’ camp weeks?
I struggle with telling other parents how to organize their summers because individual circumstances vary so greatly…in so many ways. Some have older kids while others have littles; some are home with children and others are in the workforce; some use summer to decompress from the “school year” while others see it as the perfect time to play academic “catch up.” In fact, the way my kids and I “do summer” is very different from that of most people I know because we have a year-round homeschool schedule, and, thus, don’t have 12 weeks to “fill” with miscellaneous activities. We love our routine, but some people think we’re nuts and would never dream of adopting it for their families!
All that said, I asked my daughters – ages 13 and 14 – to brainstorm for me some non-technology-based summer teen activities, hoping those who’ve recently read Dr. Kathy’s book Screens and Teens will appreciate ideas for using summertime to loosen the grip technology has on some teens:
· Find a pen pal from another state or country – not a “text pal” or even an email pal…but a person with whom to exchange handwritten letters;
· Start and maintain a garden (not too late in the season if you jump on it now);
· Organize regular outings with a small group of friends (to an amusement park, the zoo, a city pool or lake, etc.)…and leave cell phones in the car for the duration;
· Grab a couple of cookbooks from the library and learn to prepare a full dinner for your family each week;
· Investigate area bike trails and plan one trek each week;
· On a sweltering day, spend the afternoon with friends in an air-conditioned bowling alley;
· Paint your bedroom…in a way that truly reflects your personality;
· Learn to change the oil and tires on family cars;
· Organize an ice cream social with friends at an area park…and bring enough to surprise everyone else who happens to be there with sundaes;
· Learn to sew…knit…make jewelry…paint…draw…work with wood, etc.;
· Plan a weekly family game night – board and card games only, nothing electronic;
· Challenge yourself to read at least one chapter a day in a real (non-Kindle) book, choosing material of personal interest – things you don’t get to read the rest of the year.
Of course, my girls’ list is not exhaustive. But share it with your kids and then use it to brainstorm with them to plan a summer that will suit your own circumstances.
Photo Credit: Pedro Ribeiro Simoes