Reader Sue asked, “I have a seven year old daughter, can you suggest ways and means to keep her occupied during the summer holidays. I don’t want her to get hooked on to the TV or the hi-tech games.”
I think this is a multi-faceted question, because there are many aspects to managing large amounts of free time for kids. In the first article, I covered summer camps, and in the next one I will cover limiting (undesirable) activities. This one will focus on finding activities for kids to do.
If you are in the position where you can find someone to look after kids during the summer, or looking after them yourself, it is still a good idea to have some activities for them to do. Here are some ideas on where to find kid-friendly activities:
- The library. Local libraries offer things such as reading groups and story time. Some libraries will let teenagers volunteer during the summer as well. Our library also offers puppet shows and some craft activities. Check your local library for programs.
- Museums. Most museums offer family memberships that allow unlimited visits for a single price. My geographic area is littered with all sorts of museums, including an art, sports, history, and children’s. One local city gives you access to all their museums for a single price. Besides allowing for the standard visits, most museums will also offer afternoon or week-long activity camps.
- Zoos and aquariums. Some areas have a zoo or aquarium. Our area has both, and both offer the standard tours along with kid-friendly programs involving supervised interaction with some animals. Some cities, like the one I went to university in, have a free zoo, open to all. Others offer season passes.
- Botanical gardens and parks. Some areas have botanical or nature areas with trails and hiking. Our local garden has a water area for kids and educational programs about plants.
- Neighbors. While not a formal program, children can learn skills from a neighbor willing to teach. Cooking, crafts, gardening and pet care all fall into possible activities.
- Play swaps. If your children have friends that live close, consider doing play swaps, where the other parent watches the children one morning, and you reciprocate.
- Summer sports. Many sports facilities have small camps for improving sports performance. Recreation leagues may offer one-day seminars or pick-up games as well.
- The farmer’s market. If you have a local farmer’s market, a trip there can teach a child about produce: how it is grown, and how to select and prepare it. Our farmer’s market also has a kid-friendly day every month or so, with bounce machines and popcorn.
- Visit a farm. Farms may not be located near where you are, but if the travel time is not too great, it is worth a trip. Don’t let your children think that cows belong in zoos. Some farms offer programs for the children, introducing them to the various animals and their care.
- Water. An afternoon at the beach, local pool, or even running through the sprinkler can provide a lot of fun. We live within a half hour of the ocean, and we have located the “local’s beach” on the bay, which provides less people, greater parking, and safer conditions.
By looking around the activities in your area, you will find many things for kids to do during holidays.
Photo by Jay Adan