The start of summer is such a fun and exciting time for kids! But, for many the lazy, hazy days of summer can start to drag if the kids are bored or spend too much time in front of the screen. However, with a little bit of planning, it’s easy to keep kids engaged in a variety of activities. Summer is a great time to try out some new, exciting learning opportunities. Engaging, hands-on activities over the summer help to ensure kids are ready for the grade ahead and don’t regress.
- Explore local attractions. Within the St. Louis metropolitan area, there are so many great local attractions to check out. Even if you have been to these places before, there are always new things to explore and new ways to keep your child learning throughout the experience. If you go to the zoo have your children plan out on the map how they are going to get around to see their favorite animals. Of, if you go to the botanical gardens have them practice their reading skills by reading out loud the posted signage. Even a small trip to a local park or trail can be a great time to search out different species of wildflowers, trees, or birds. Regardless of where you go, there are so many opportunities to keep children learning while at our local attractions.
- Attend a local summer camp. While all camps are great for keeping kids engaged, if you want to keep your kids learning over the summer look for camps that focus on science, art, and other educational skills. Washington University Program in Occupational Therapy actually offers its own summer camp for children ages 9-16 with executive function difficulties (difficulty with planning, organization, goal-setting, task monitoring, etc.). If interested in learning more about this camp, see link below.
- While swimming is often a go to over the summer, especially in the St. Louis heat, swimming can have great benefits for kids who struggle to manage sensory input. Swimming provides vestibular input by moving in all directions, proprioceptive input by the resistive muscle activity with the water, and tactile input as swimmers are constantly feeling pressure from the water. Regardless if kids have sensory needs or not, swimming is also a great form of exercise to help keep active over the summer and improve coordination skills.
- STEM Projects. STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) projects are great for kids of all ages. On a rainy summer day, stay inside and create a marshmallow catapult, make slime, make ice cream in a bag, experiment with various versions of the same chocolate chip cookie recipe to learn how each ingredient affects the overall cookie, or figure out what household materials you could use to build a bridge. These activities are great to help build problem-solving skills, teamwork, direction following, etc. In addition, they all result in a final outcome your kid will be proud to show others.
- Fuel their passions. While there are certainly many ways to try and keep kids engaged and learning over the summer, the best way to do that is to incorporate their passions and favorite things into learning experiences. Whether they are into sports, Minecraft, gymnastics, space, or history find age-appropriate ways to feed their interests through books, movies, games, and other hands-on experiences. The more they are interested in what they are learning the more they will get out of it.
No matter how you choose to keep your kids engaged, the value of any learning over the summer cannot be overstated. Parents can feel good about keeping their kids engaged in tasks that don’t involve spending hours in front of a screen and kids can look forward to trying new things that keep their minds and bodies active.