First of all, since when did this generation of parents take on the responsibility to “entertain” our kids? Back in my day (haha), our parents told us to go outside, play, and don’t come back unless you are hungry!”. Seriously though, personally, I do enjoy scheduling family fun time in the summer to keep my sons busy, learning, and growing in ways a traditional classroom may not provide.
Fortunately, I do not have to worry about their learning habits during the school year as their school focuses on inspiring students to have a healthy curiosity in developing a joy for learning academics and life skills. Life skills I get to help reinforce with the summertime activities.
Quite honestly, I try to keep them busy as research also shows that bored students have an increased likelihood of quitting school altogether in the later years. Teens who are often “bored” and not kept busy are fifty percent more likely than their peers to take up smoking, drinking, and illegal drugs. Additionally, it is one of the most frequent triggers for binge eating.
As a mom of two teenage boys, who works full-time, I find it is becoming more challenging to keep them entertained. It’s as easy as it was when they were younger. Gone are the days when I could simply take them to a local art festival for the day, get their faces painted, have a caricature portrait done, and eat corn dogs until nap time. No, this mama must come up with a little more today to entertain these kids in the summer.
If I had my way, I would enroll them in a summer learning program to avoid the dreaded “summer loss.” It is at least one way to keep them busy and under adult supervision. Especially for my youngest, as he already has struggled with binge eating, experimenting with substances, and vaping nicotine. He is at risk of becoming a statistic, so I will be proactive and control what I can control for now, and that is keeping him busy over the summer when I am at work.
Below are a few suggestions to try out when they are still small:
- Turn the backyard swing set into a “water slide” with the lawn hose and put a kiddie pool at the end for a big splash
- Sprinkler parks
- Library summer reading programs: Encourage them to create their own reading list and dedicate time to devour those literary gems.
- Day camping
- Petting farms
- City parks and pools
- Road trip to one of the Great Lakes: According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), “You are never more than 85 miles from a Great Lake,”. This pleasant peninsula makes it possible for us to be approximately less than a two-hour drive from one of the Great Lakes.
- Bike rides: Metro parks in Michigan are filled with many easy-to-expert bike trails.
- Drive-in movie night: No, they are not a thing of the past! We are fortunate to have one close by where we live, and they have three screens that showcase double features. We loved doing this when they were little, but it is also enjoyable in their teens.
Ok, so let’s talk more about the kid that does need summer school, not just planned activities throughout the summer.
Reasons why you should consider summer school
Ah, the joys of summer vacation – the blissful escape from alarm clocks and the liberation of endless hours under the warm sun. But as much as summer is a time for relaxation and rejuvenation, let us not forget the importance of keeping our minds sharp and in tip-top shape.
Well, if you asked my teenager for reasons why you should consider summer school, this article would be over already. (Ha, ha) When I was younger, my favorite part of summer vacation was sleeping in. Wait, who am I kidding? It’s still my favorite part! Although I am happy for my children to have lazy summer mornings (afternoons, honestly), I do notice that their ability to have quality sleep and think at their highest level is almost nonexistent.
Studies show a direct correlation between higher quality, longer duration, greater consistency of sleep, and better grades when students stay in learning programs over the summer.
However, some students can experience learning losses over the summer, a.k.a. the “summer brain drain,” like my kids, if they are not kept stimulated. Summer courses are an excellent way to avoid these seasonal setbacks, stay mentally stimulated, and stay busy.
Summer activities for teens
As parents, we understand clearly that summer is not just about lounging by the pool and playing video games all day. It’s an opportunity to stimulate intellectual growth and stimulate their bright young minds. So how do we balance fun and educational activities for our teens during the summer?
For science enthusiasts, suggest a trip to a nearby science center or museum. There are interactive exhibits, hands-on experiments, and mind-boggling demonstrations to pique your teen’s curiosity.
Consider a summer theater or art program if they are more inclined towards the arts. They nurture natural creative talents and provide a platform for self-expression and confidence building. And don’t forget about all the outdoor art festivals that happen throughout summer, across the country, in almost every town.
For the adventurer, plan a thrilling outdoor excursion like hiking, rock climbing, or even zip-lining. Encourage them to step out of their comfort zones and conquer new challenges. They’ll develop physical strength and endurance and learn essential life skills such as teamwork, problem-solving, and resilience.
What about the “techie”? Enroll them in a coding or robotics summer camp. In our digital age, programming skills are highly sought after, and it’s never too early to start.
How to entertain kids in the summer
In conclusion, my fellow parents, we have found various entertaining and educational summer activities to keep kids and teens engaged and inspired, but remember, summer is not just a season to idle away the days. Summer can be a time for exploration, learning, and personal development. With a bit of planning and creativity, you can ensure that your teens have a summer filled with adventure, growth, and memories that will last a lifetime. Happy summer-ing!