Keeping Children Engaged During the Summer

Written by: Jane Nolan

Those lazy days of summer are right around the corner. How do parents keep their children mentally engaged and physically active until their return to school in the fall?

How you engage your child and keep her/him motivated will depend on your child’s age. Vital to this process is going with the interests of your child. This requires some parental reflection. Think about your child. What does your child like to do? What excites your child? What does your child want to know more about? What doesn’t your child have time to do during the busy school year? Then consider what is practical and doable for your family. Are there summer reading lists or other school assignments? Then speak with your child. What does your child want to do with her/his summer? Of course, your child’s ideas, suggestions, and viability of plan can depend on the age of your child. But even young children may have some great ideas of what to do, that could work, with the support of parents.

Summer should be a time for children to relax and pursue the endeavors that they love or maybe want to explore. Whether it’s sports, guitar lessons, or playing in the backyard with friends, this is time well spent. And these enjoyable activities may help children attend better to summer assignments.

Create a calendar with your child to visually plot your child’s activities and school assignments. This will help both of you evaluate the proposed plan and prioritize how to spend the time. Include in your plans some family time. Talk together and make your list. It might include: a weekly movie night, with everyone taking turns picking the movie; reading the same book and having a family discussion, your child might want to invite school friends; learning new card and board games together; taking walks together exploring your neighborhood; family cooking night with everyone deciding the menu and cooking together; creating a story of your summer with photos.

Spending time together is a way to keep children engaged and intellectually stimulated. What children want most, any time of year, is enjoying more time with their parents, especially when you plan and make choices together. Summer can be a time to connect with each other in a more relaxed way. Resist the impulse to schedule every moment so no one will be bored. Boredom leads us to find new ideas, new ways to entertain ourselves, and maybe discover new interests.

Posted on April 10, 2014 at 7:10 PM