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By: Shay Stinson 

Summertime is here and while still in a pandemic we are desperately searching for ways to enjoy a fun-filled, low-cost break for the whole family. We have found a few tips and tricks to share with families on how to adjust your budgets and schedules and not miss out on the fun! Some of the activities we found are specific to certain ages and physical or sensory sensitive abilities, making summer fun more inclusive for all.  

Get up and get moving!  

Let’s jump right into the activities! During the school year, children are generally more active. Many school-sponsored activities like sports and extracurricular organizations run their programs throughout the school year to have more participation. To keep kids physically active in a world of technology, parents must be creative. Research says children gain more weight during the summer breaks than during the school year due to being inactive. Here is a shortlist of a few things we can do to fight the indoor blues and keep the kids moving. Parents don’t forget to stay active yourselves, influence is the first and best teacher.  

  1. Join the local YMCA! By participating in the local YMCA program, you are sure to find an active, physically engaging schedule for your child that may even include summer camps. Many YMCA programs offer scholarships and discounted rates for families.  
  2. Summer league sports: Many local park leagues hold summer sessions for various sports. You may find information at your local community centers or recreational centers for local league sports like swimming, kickball, bowling, volleyball, basketball, or tennis. 

    Bowling is a year-round sport that’s fun for all ages! (Pic by Shay Stinson)

  3. Join the marching band! Choose your instrument and join the band. During the last part of the school year, many junior and high schools hold auditions for new band members. Do not fret if you missed out. You can always pick your instrument based on what you think you would like to try and find a used instrument or rent one. Go online and find YouTube videos to teach yourself the basics and try out for the band in the fall. Besides the physical exercise, the marching band is a great mental exercise via remembering songs & learning notes.  
  4. Find your niche.  Starting a new hobby is not generally seen as something physically demanding, but that theory can be debunked depending on the hobby you select. For instance, nature-related hobbies require lots of physical movements and energy. Gardening, bird watching, hiking, cycling, and wood crafting are a few hobbies that require some elbow grease.  
  5. Exercise. Yes, that’s right. Sometimes the answer is simple. To avoid gaining summer pounds and to keep your kids active, let them develop an exercise routine. Of course, with the doctor’s approval, there are so many apps and self-teaching videos to encourage kids to work out. The famous Youtuber and influencer Ryan of Ryan’s World has a workout video just for kids and already it has over three million views.  


Independent Activities & Hobbies 

The “dog days” of summer are those sweltering parts of summer where it is too hot to be in or outdoors and you just have to suffer through it. By this time of the summer, we’re all looking for ways to beat the heat, stay active and keep the kiddos happy while we get some work done ourselves because we are the adults unfortunately and some of us are still working from home. Here are a few suggestions for busywork that may give the kids some time alone and you space to get some things done at work or around the house.  

  1. Read. Summer reading does not have to be done just to meet educational requirements. Reading is an adventure and can be fun. You can create a reading adventure list for your youth and give them a book list to follow that will take them along a journey according to their interests. Have them read a grade level up for a challenge. Rewards for reading a certain amount of time or books is a great incentive for assuring the job gets done.

    Reading is a great independent activity that can provide an escape for kids that may need more personal space.

  2. Start a YouTube series. If your children have a certain interest like reading comic books, playing with toys, or baking, they might consider starting a YouTube series of videos for other kids. This is quite a creative task and the little ones may need more help with setting up. It starts with production and getting your videos done and edited. Half the effort is in planning, and they may only get a chance to record a few quality videos before the end of summer. But that’s the purpose of this task, having an activity that gives the kiddos a think space! This activity is easily accommodating to all ages and physical or intellectual capabilities. 
  3. Arts and crafts: Nothing keeps your child busy all day like a great arts and crafts project. Michael’s craft store has in-store events that invite children of all ages to create and participate in various arts and crafts projects. The little ones can explore several things that they may be interested in for long-term crafting like crocheting or beading by doing this free activity. The art of scrapbooking is an easy craft for kids of all ages and is an activity that can be carried on well into adulthood. If you cannot make it to the in-store events to be inspired at Michael’s, find some inspiration on its website. One thing is for sure, no matter your age or interests, there is an arts and crafts genre just waiting to ignite your creativity!  
  4. Bake it or make it! This next activity is sure to give you an advantage as a parent, but it is not an unsupervised endeavor. Baking and cooking are activities that many children have recently found interesting and exciting, thanks to more influencers and increased exposure to the art. Once the safety concerns are discussed, the fun begins. This activity allows children to be inspired, use their creativity, and brave parents to try new yummy recipes. This is also a chance to learn basic living skills like grocery shopping and meal planning for youth who will be venturing into adulthood soon.  

Here are a few summer recipes to take with you….  

Yummy fruit salads 

Salad is the main dish  

Refreshing Drinks for summertime thirst 

5. Movies and T.V. shows: We want to always monitor the amount of screen time our children get, but some time will inevitably be spent in front of a screen this summer due to the age of technology and the ongoing pandemic. Whether it is cable or a streaming service, we can turn this activity into a positive one by assigning certain shows or movies that follow certain themes and then follow them up with family discussions. Periodically, we release our own recommendations for movies and T.V. shows that have themes specific to our work in foster care. We tap into the themes we think our foster families could benefit from during family movie night or discussing at the dinner table, like the Netflix series “Atypical.” The show features an average family with an extraordinary main character who lives his daily life on the autism spectrum and shares his unfiltered thoughts. Finding shows that are themed to certain topics and issues can be beneficial to growth as a family and make discussions easier.   


Safety First Summer Season 

Summertime can be incredibly fun with lots of outside play and family activities. We naturally want to gather and explore the world around us all day, but it can be dangerous if we do not take precautions. We must remind you of several major concerns where it affects our dear buttercups.  

The first is water safety. There is a natural urge to keep cool this summer by diving into a body of water, whether that’s a pool, an ocean, or a lake. Logically speaking, if you do not know how to swim, do not go into the water without supervision and safety equipment like floaties! Stay with a strong swimmer and/or near a trained lifeguard. There are several places and opportunities in most communities for swim lessons for the whole family, like the YMCA. Check with your local branch to see if they are offering swim lessons. 

The new craze for younger babies is the splash pad. This is a stationary, small-scale, amusement-like water park that comes equipped with water sprinklers. But be cautious the little ones can still get hurt or pick up germs at the splash pad. Smaller water play areas still come with as many rules as the pool and open water zones. Always stay with your child and never assume a child of any swim skill is completely safe without adult supervision at the water area.  

Parents are the best role models, this means getting out there and joining the fun! Photo by Rafaela Biazi

Block Those Rays!

Let’s remember to soak in the summer sun with caution though. The experts say during peak summer days we should all avoid extended periods of sun exposure between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. This is where your inside creativity will come in handy. Consider using an indoor activity on these days like the trampoline park, museums, the mall for window shopping and ice cream, or the local arcade. When you do decide to venture back outside, make sure to use sunblock daily. In either rain or shine, no matter your age or skin tone, everyone should use sunblock!  

Let your children live and explore this summer. We have all been stuck inside for quite some time. Let’s get outside and see what the world has been up to and how we can find our places in it! We’ve given you many creative ideas and activities for the entire family. Don’t forget the safety tips and drink lots of water, Happy Summer family!  


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