With summer vacation ramping up, you might be wondering how you will keep your kids or grandkids occupied all summer and not hear, “I’m bored!”, constantly. Having children create their own fun activities has it benefits (and risks), but if you’d like to offer them some ideas, here are a few activities that are both fun and instructive, too. Our job as parents and grandparents is to raise independent, responsible adults and our time with them is fleeting, so it’s important to maximize every teachable moment!
- Visit your local library and check out books. As a kid, one of my favorite summer activities was our weekly visit to our local library (Hey—I fully embrace my nerdiness!). My siblings and I could spend hours just skimming the books that were available and selecting the lucky few that would make the cut to come home with us that week. I know that reading paper books and going to the library are “old school” activities that may elicit eye rolls and resistance, initially. However, the multi-sensory experience of perusing rows of books and selecting one that piques your interest is a pleasure that likely won’t be available many more years. Be sure to share it with your kids and grandkids while you can!
- Run a lemonade stand. Stoke their entrepreneurial fires by encouraging them to run their own business for the summer (or just for an afternoon). Whether it’s a lemonade or produce stand, pet sitting, babysitting, yard work or other service, there are many skills they can learn from doing so, and it should be a required rite of passage for all children. Talk to them about the 4 P’s: product (what to make), price (the right price for the product), placement (where to sell it) and promotion (how to get the word out). Be sure to have them pay you a portion of their profits to cover the cost of any supplies you provided (because starting a business is not free!).
- Interview adults about their jobs. Kids generally have very abstract ideas about what they’d like to do when they grow up, sometimes with a huge disconnect between the income potential and their desired lifestyle. At some point, they need to start learning about the various choices available to them, what type of education might be required, and how much they can expect to earn, etc. Ask them to identify friends, family members or neighbors who they’d like to interview about their careers. You might need to help them figure out the jobs various people have, so they can make appropriate choices based on their interests. To further drive home this lesson, have them share what they learned with the rest of the family. Depending on their age, a bonus activity for older kids might be to search the cost of a one-bedroom apartment in your area to get an idea of how much it would cost (at the most basic level) to live on their own. It’s helpful perspective to have as they’re considering education and career choices!
- Take them to work with you. Whether it’s part of the official “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day” or not, consider taking your kids to work with you over the summer. Summer tends to be a quieter time, so you might have more time to focus on their experience in your office by introducing them to your co-workers, talking to them about what you do and maybe even giving them small projects to complete. It helps kids to understand that their parents work hard to earn money and will help instill a solid work ethic in them. Check out www.daughtersandsonstowork.org for more helpful ideas.
Instead of just telling your kids to go outside and play when they say, “I’m bored!”, this summer, take advantage of the opportunity to teach them important life lessons by helping them do something useful with their free time. We’d love to hear your ideas to share on this so please post your comments below!