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Podcast & Blog #92: Summer Enrichment Activities INSTEAD of Screen Time! Part 1

Abby & Emma join me on the podcast to share some ideas that are better than screen time!

Most of us parents want summer to be flexible and fun for our kids, yet we don’t want that to mean they have complete freedom for their brains to wither away in front of a screen all day. 

We need a SUMMER SUCCESS PLAN for our kids that is fun, memorable, a change of pace that won’t break the bank, and it would be a bonus if our kids actually developed in key areas of life at the same time!

That all seems a bit too much to ask for one summer, especially with the limited time we parents have to monitor and coordinate a meaningful break.  So, what’s going to motivate us to make this SUMMER SUCCESS PLAN?  Well, let me ask you a question:

How many summers do we get with our children?

Oh dear, that question kind of makes me hold my breath for a moment.  Suddenly the realization of  having only 18 or less summers with our growing kids makes the summer days so much more valuable.  It’s time to be intentional.

Yes, summer should be full of leisure, fun, and rejuvenation but what it should not be is wasted.

Don’t waste this precious time.  Summer can be relaxing and developmental all at the same time! But it will require a little brainstorming and planning to make it fit both of those aspects into the limited 8-10 weeks we’ve got.

How about I do the brainstorming and planning for you? Or, at least I'm going to share my list with you and you can pick and choose the activities you think would work well at your house AND maybe it will help you think of activities that are JUST RIGHT for YOUR FAMILY!

Don’t worry, these activities are not all parent-centered activities.  After all, our kids need time alone just as much as we adults crave time alone.  This post is about making the most of your child’s summer days.

I would encourage you to pick out which of the following activities must be completed each day by your child before he or she is free to get in front of a screen for leisure. 

The following list is pretty much my “we never have ENOUGH time to give this subject the quality emphasis it deserves during the school year” list, but we’ll just call it the “SUMMER SUCCESS ACTIVITIES for KIDS” list for short.

Ten Summer Success Activities for Kids:

1. A little Academics – The two subjects that I usually emphasize in the summer are Typing and Math (I also emphasize geography, but I’ll talk about that separately in a bit).

A. Improve Accurate Typing Skills– 

Most children today have no problem using a keyboard, but eventually, for writing lots of papers in college, they’re going to need to have accurate typing skills.  This is a super easy  summer activity for kids.  I simply have my kids use Typing.comThis website is free and fun
I let them know I’d like them to do two lessons per day (they’re very short and kids enjoy them so I’ve never had one of my children resist the lessons) and that they can’t do any of the games on the website until they’ve been given approval from me, which I give when I see a certain level of proficiency and effort on their part

B. Math Basket

I like to keep a basket of math manipulatives for my kids to use each day. 
For young children it might be an abacus, counting monkeys, wrap-ups, or (another free website) for a fun and quick way to learn their basic math facts. 
For older kids, it could be math games, or Usborne Books has exceptional math supplements that are fun to use at each level from young to older, and I also really like the laminated quick guides (look on Amazon or Rainbow Resources) regarding different math topics – such as Algebra or Geometry formulas.  Just 10 minutes a day can keep their skills sharp. There's also a math kit called 10 Days to Multiplication Mastery (available in other math levels also, such as addition).
OR just get on Pinterest and type in "math games for __________" and say whatever kind of math help your child needs, such as "math games for subtraction" and you'll find lots of ideas using items around the house. Now, Mama, if your child is capable, have THEM make the games instead of you!

2. Journaling

Make this more fun by taking them to the store and letting them pick out a journal or notebook to use for this project.

Keeping a journal improves kids’ writing skills, provides a mentally healthy outlet for expressing their thoughts, and can be a great keepsake, if they want it to be.

Let them know you won’t read their journal unless they ask you to read something and don’t correct their grammar or spelling, because that’s not the goal of journaling. 

If they can’t think of anything to write about, you can get them a writing prompts book or, again, get on Pinterest, but really it would be best if they write about what they’re thinking, feeling, praying, doing, what they want to create or invent, a problem they want to solve, and what they're wrestling with in their lives.  

Or, they could simply make a prayer journal. (A prayer plan they could use can be the acronym PRAY: Praise God, Repent to God, Ask God for His guidance and His help, and say Yes to God’s leading. They could journal their prayers.)

3. Musical Instrument or Voice

Maybe you can’t afford the time or money to put your child in music lessons during the school year. You could ask a teacher for a summer course that might be less expensive.  Or, you’d be surprised how many free tutorials you can find online to help your child learn an instrument. 

Music has been an invaluable part of our children’s lives. Many studies show that playing a musical instrument is beneficial for cognitive developmental. AND, in the middle school and high school years, I observed that, for my kids, playing an instrument became a wonderful source of mental therapy beginning around age 13..

All five of my grown kids are still using their music abilities as adults. 

Give your kids the gift of music and I think you won’t regret it!

4. Geography So I’ve graduated five kids and have two still in school.  Geography used to be a real challenge to adequately fit into my kids’ brains.  Sure, there’s the a geography course every so many years in school, and it is incorporated some into history texts, but I really wanted more for my kids in this field because and I don’t want them to share my feebleness! 

Then I discovered!  It is wonderful for a lot of reasons, but for this post I’m only going to talk about the geographical reason why I love this website!  Cross Seven offers these very short learning videos that are catchy little jingles about different valuable academic facts.  I’ve used this website for the past seven years nearly year-round and am always amazed at how much my kids learn from it.  Now once they reach middle school they do start to feel that they’re kind of outgrowing most of the little learning songs, but they still like the geography jingles throughout high school.  The geography videos will show a map of an area and use a song to teach the geographical sites on the map. Oh my, my kids have learned so much geography this way!  It also includes electronic quizzes for them to take on the geography songs they're learning. They look forward to using this website every day and it is zero work for me while they learn this information!  This is not a free website. It has a monthly fee with no contract commitment and for one price you actually get learning jingles in many categories: math, science, history, grammar, Bible, Latin, hymns, and geography.  We use all of these categories until somewhere in middle school and then they just continue with geography.

5. ArtOkay, I am totally and completely not an artsy person. I have zero creativity and messing with all the little intricate details just doesn’t work well for my still-trying-to-develop-patience self.  But that doesn’t mean that arts and crafts don’t have their place in our world.  I know it’s good for people to have these creative outlets, not to mention that some of my kids just love art, so I need to foster these opportunities for that reason also.  Art projects and summer seem to just go hand-in-hand.  They can do messy art outside, or they can listen to audio books while they do art inside.  (Our family is a huge fan of audio books so I’m going to share our favorites with you here).


What's Coming: Next week's podcast & blog will be part 2 of our Summer Success Activities Theme!



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