It’s summertime, school is out, and many families are at their wit’s end about how to fill three months of their children’s free time. Images of summertime are usually cast in a light of hot, lazy, relaxing days by a lake, but the reality for most working families is the struggle to balance the demands of adult work schedules with providing safe activities for children. This dilemma often results in hectic, stress-filled days comparable to those during the school year. While summer camp is an option for some, the cost of day and overnight camps can be too expensive for many families’ budgets. Structured activities are beneficial, but parents and caregivers should also keep in mind the advantages of unstructured time for children.
So what do we do to keep young children busy, yet also allow them to enjoy the summer months? Whether your child is a preschooler or school-age, a wealth of opportunities for fun, educational, and even relaxing activities are possible. Here are some tips that may be useful for families and caregivers:
Visit the library
Until recently, libraries offered little or nothing for children below the age of three, but in the past few years, many have introduced programs for toddlers. Children and adults can participate in activities that may include reading aloud, storytelling, fingerplays, rhymes, and songs. Preschoolers usually enjoy the group activities offered by libraries, where they can participate in puppet shows and arts and crafts activities. For elementary school children, there are variations of the read-alouds and storytelling hours that often include discussions and presentations by the children themselves, as well as summer reading programs. Many public libraries also offer training courses for children in using different software or educational programs.