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6 Summer Activity Ideas for Every Age

June 7, 2016

By Jessica Vician

6 Summer Activity Ideas for Every Age | Once your child finishes school for the summer, it’s time for less traditional and more fun learning. Keep your child’s mind stimulated throughout the summer to prevent them from losing the knowledge they gained over the past year with these activities.

Once your child finishes school for the summer, it’s time for less traditional and more fun learning. Keep your child’s mind stimulated throughout the summer to prevent them from losing the knowledge they gained over the past year.

To avoid the summer slide, ask your child’s teacher for a list of learning outcomes they accomplished this year and think of ways to incorporate that knowledge into your activities throughout the summer.

Your kids can also try these activities for additional stimulation this summer.

For toddlers

  1. Plant seeds and watch them grow. 
    Teach your child how plant life begins.

    Buy a packet of seeds—try an herb that you cook with frequently (basil, mint, and cilantro grow quickly with minimal human effort)—and some soil. Follow the directions on the seed packet and they’ll be growing in no time.

    This activity teaches your child that plants need food to grow just like kids do. The seeds need soil and water to nourish them, like kids need water and healthy foods to nourish them.

    Get excited with your child when the first sprouts break through the soil—it’s a big accomplishment for both the plant and your child!

  2. Develop their fine motor skills.
    Fine motor skills involve the movement of muscles in smaller actions. According to Baby Center, “it's equally important that kids work on their fine motor skills—small, precise thumb, finger, hand, and wrist movements—because they support a host of other vital physical and mental skills.”

    To help your young toddler develop these skills, prompt your child to stack toy blocks, sing songs with hand movements like “Wheels on the Bus,” and go to the playground and let them figure out the play equipment.

    For more activities that will develop your child’s fine motor skills, read this article.

For elementary students

  1. Join a summer reading program.
    Your local library likely has a summer reading program for your child’s age group. Encourage him or her to be social and read by enrolling in a free or low-cost program.

    You can also create an independent summer reading program. Challenge your child to read two books a month (at his or her reading level) and offer a reward, like a family dinner at your child’s favorite restaurant. Remember Book-It? It still exists and you can set up an at-home version.

  2. Create a DIY summer. 
    Teach your child how to make common things like lip balm, lotion, exfoliating scrubs, and even household cleaners. The American Girl YouTube channel has great video tutorials and Pinterest has an endless supply of ideas and directions.

    Your child will learn math skills, like how to measure and a practical application of fractions, as well as learn what goes into these products.

    Supervise your child and use natural ingredients instead of potentially dangerous chemicals, as there may be an unexpected reaction combining different liquids and solids.

For teens and tweens

  1. Learn an instrument.
    Enroll your child in a music class this summer. Learning to play and read music can teach your child valuable emotional and academic skills by engaging both the right and left sides of the brain. It also helps him or her learn to focus, improves critical thinking skills, and nurtures your child’s emotional maturity, according to VH1 Save the Music.

    If your child already plays an instrument, register him or her for a class in a different musical style. For example, if he or she knows how to play guitar, enroll in a blues or jazz guitar class, or a class modeled after your child’s favorite artist. If your city or town doesn’t offer those types of classes, find YouTube videos that focus on learning new songs.

  2. Learn to code.
    Your child should learn to code for many reasons. For one, there are so many jobs out there that require a minimal knowledge of HTML and CSS. And like learning a foreign language, it increases brain mass.

    Let your teen learn and invest in his or her future this summer with these free online resources that teach coding.

Do your kids have favorite summer activities that keep them learning in a fun way? Share them in the comments below!


How do I effectively discipline my child without being physical?

March 14, 2014

By YOU Program Facilitator

A child frowns while his mother disciplines him.

Question: I don't want to discipline my kids by spanking them, but my husband does. He doesn’t think there’s another option. How can we effectively discipline our kids without being physical?

Answer: Disciplining a child is no easy task. It’s normal at times to feel desperate, frustrated, and mad. If you or your husband feels the urge to spank your child or act out in anger, take a time-out and breathe. Striking your children will only have negative consequences.

The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly opposes striking a child and discourages any form of physical punishment. Effective discipline is possible without being physical. You and your husband can start by setting limits.

Be clear about your house rules.
It’s up to you to define and make clear what you expect from your children. Discuss house rules with them often, when you are all calm. If your rules are clear and easy to understand, your children will have an easier time following them.

Be consistent.
Every adult who cares for your children should be consistent when enforcing rules and actions. Remember that children model behavior and may not follow rules if you or other caregivers don’t follow them, too. Discipline helps your children learn to behave in the real world with real people.

Be supportive.
When pointing out unacceptable behavior, always communicate that you still love and support your children.

Set measures that are developmentally appropriate.
Each age comes with specific techniques to discipline a child. For example, at the toddler stage, you must ensure safety and limit aggression. Use brief verbal explanations and redirect your children to an alternative activity.

In contrast, while disciplining a teenager, you should explain rules in a noncritical way. Parents shouldn’t belittle the teenager, but instead explain the logical consequences of his or her actions.

Disciplining with love, understanding, and consistency while modeling behavior has much better results in the short and long term than using physical discipline.

For more information on the issues addressed in this question, see the YOU: Your Child's First Teacher book series, specifically Through the Early Years. See page 13 for information about taking time out for yourself, page 38 for understanding the importance of modeling positive behavior and page 56 for information about establishing boundaries for your child.

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