32 Ways to Entertain Children in the Summer
Summertime is highly anticipated among people of all ages. The weather becomes ideal for adventures, school lets out, giving children a much-needed reprieve, and the days extend just long enough to add an extra element of fun.
For children in Kinship Care, maintaining a summer atmosphere of fun, learning, and productivity is essential for their comfort and growth.School’s out for #Summer! 📚😎 Check out the following ideas we have for keeping kids entertained during summer and some bonus ideas about family bonding via @NEChildrensHome:Click To Tweet
Of course, we want to include all of the fun and excitement that summer can provide, but there is a way to include all of these long-awaited summer activities while keeping in mind what they can do for the child in your care.
School’s Out, But For Most, It’s Business As Usual
While summer can be synonymous with free time and vacations for many, that’s not always the case for all families. In reality, many Kinship Care families still have to juggle full-time jobs, multiple jobs, classes, or any other number of obligations.
With this in mind, the following suggestions for making sure summer fun is at an all-time high are also ways you can strengthen your family formed through kinship care. Some of these are group activities for in the evening after work, some weekend outings, and most importantly — ways kids can stay engaged even when their caregivers are working. Stay tuned for a section at the end of this article with ideas and programs for families juggling full-time work and childcare this summer.
Get Your Body Movin’
The first place most people’s minds go when you hear “school’s out” is a vibrant supercut of pools, water parks, baseball fields, and staying out until the streetlights come on.
These are often synonymous with summer and definitely have their place in this season. However, not all of these activities that immediately come to mind are feasible for all families.
Check out these accessible ways to encourage the children in your care to stay active, beat the heat, and take part in fun activities:
- Go swimming at a local pool or splash pad
- Play outdoor games like tag, capture the flag, and red rover
- Have a water balloon fight
- Walk together to grab snow cones or another cool treat
- Create a hopscotch universe on the sidewalk with chalk
- Choreograph a fun dance to the song of the summer
- Host a hula hoop contest
- Visit a local playground
- Create homemade bubbles
- Ride bikes around the neighborhood
Staying active is so important for growing kids and provides an outlet for stress and big emotions.
Exercise That Mind!
Once school is truly out, it’s pretty easy for kids to think they won’t be exercising any of their brain muscles until September. Keeping up with critical thinking activities and other age-appropriate skills can make all the difference once school does come back around again.
School aside: these are valuable skills and lessons that benefit children greatly by keeping them in their normal schedule.
Here are some ways to fit mental exercises/activities into your summer schedule:
- Read your favorite book series together
- While playing games, try to incorporate basic spelling and math
- Visit the library and see who brings home the coolest finds
- Play Disney Jeopardy
- Do a scientific experiment (making ice cream is certainly very scientific!)
- Make bird feeders with peanut butter and birdseed
- Go through recipes and focus on the measurements
- Create a themed treasure hunt around your neighborhood or a nature-themed treasure hunt in your own backyard (bonus points if it’s based on a true story!)
While these ideas do not fully encompass ways you can keep kids mentally engaged over the summer, they are a good place to start. Still strapped for ideas? Get your children involved and brainstorm some activities they think would be fun!Do you have plans for the #Summer? ☀️⛱ Take a look at the exciting ways we’ve compiled to ensure this summer is one filled with fun and memories. Check it out via @NEChildrensHome:Click To Tweet
Flex Your Emotional Resilience
While this is even less thought of in the larger scheme of summer activities, keeping up with one’s emotional health is not only pertinent for children, but those around them.
For children in kinship care, finding emotional stability is among the highest priorities. After all, enduring any form of change can be emotionally draining, leading to behavioral disruptions.
Here are some ways you can provide an emotionally stable environment while also encouraging hobbies and creative outlets:
- Establish a reliable routine
- Provide a safe space for alone time
- Allow time to decompress if needed
- Take turns explaining a rose (a great thing) and a thorn (a not so great thing) that happened each day
- Share a writing notebook for things that could be hard to say face-to-face
- Watch family-friendly movies and discuss the emotions felt by main characters
- Paint on canvas, use watercolors, finger paint, sketch, draw, color, and craft
- Write poems, short stories, jokes, and other forms of quick literature
- Encourage all forms of creative expression from the children in your care
When The Caregivers Are Away…
It’s easy to brainstorm and compile activities kinship families can do together, after all, that’s what we’d like to spend the majority of our time doing! For families who have to juggle work, school, and other obligations in the summer - being together 24/7 is simply not an option.
However, we have come up with fun, foolproof, and engaging ways for children of all ages to stay active and occupied in the summer, even when caregivers are away.
Here are some activities that children can do on their own or under supervision with peers during the summer:
Ideas for Everyone
- Parent-to-parent swaps. Join a trusted family in swapping childcare responsibilities for when you’re working vs. when they’re working.
- Day or overnight camps. Sign up for the children in your care to attend fun-filled day camps or even the more exciting overnight camps! This way, they can be supervised by camp staff while also socializing with other kids their age.
- Volunteer work. Especially if the children in your care have something they’re very passionate about, getting them to volunteer is always a great option, and they can never start too early! Some ideas include helping out at a local animal shelter or soup kitchen.
- Local recreational activities. Check out your local library and recreational center to see what (often FREE) activities are available to you and interest your kinship kids!
- Summer school. Okay, maybe not a crowd favorite, but is ultimately super helpful. If the kids in your care have struggled with grasping concepts over the school year or just want a jumpstart before school starts again, summer school is a great opportunity to refresh.
Examples in Norfolk, Madison County, NE
- Day Camp/Adventure Camp via Norfolk YMCA
- Summer Opportunities via Norfolk Public Schools
- Virtual Art Classes via Norfolk Arts Center (includes classes for toddlers, kids, teens, & adults!)
- In-Person Art Classes via Norfolk Arts Center
- Library Program Activities via City of Norfolk
- Nebraska Summer Camps
For families who provide kinship care, spending time together means the world. It’s not possible for caregivers to spend every second of the summer together, especially when full-time work is considered.
While summer is just one quarter of the year, it’s a perfect time for making long-lasting memories and strengthening familial bonds. We hope you’ll use some of these fun tips (or create your own variations on these ideas) and enjoy a summer to remember!
NCHS is here to help support you where you need it most. Our voluntary programs can connect you to the resources and materials you need to ensure a safe and loving home for the children in your care. To learn more about our Kinship Navigation services or speak to someone on our team, reach out to us today!