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What To Do with Kids During the Summer
Not so long ago, children spent much of their time playing on the street, in the fields, experimenting outdoors and in contact with nature. Climbing trees, hiding treasures, running, jumping, were daily practices and the word boredom was practically non-existent.
Currently, our children spend hours indoors, sitting, with little natural light and too connected to electronic devices. And leaving the urban nucleus to interact in the natural environment is something sporadic and sometimes exceptional.
On the other hand, our current society has oversized the risks that threaten us in nature and instead minimizes those generated by the urban lifestyle. So much so that it has generated the appearance of the concept “biophobia” which consists of having irrational fear and without a specific reason for nature.
We live in a world where everything has to be perfect, clean and it seems that nature is disorder, dirt…. We bury ourselves alive in excessively clean spaces and do not reflect on the fact that it is nature that gives us life.
In fact, studies on child development warn that children at home are as much or more dangerous than outside. “Overprotected children face dangers worse.” Disconnection with the natural environment produces effects such as hyperactivity, insomnia, obesity, and even decreased levels of vitamin D.
6 Best Activities To Do in the Summer with Your Children
1. Exercise and Outdoor Activities
Doing outdoor activities and doing physical exercise provides balance and tranquility. A good way to get healthy is to go out and enjoy nature together as a family. You don’t need to make long trips or long excursions, just find the right place and pick up sticks, observe plants, photograph animals, throw rocks into the river, climb a tree, roll on the ground or put your feet in the water when crossing a river. Even you can have an inflatable pool in the garden and your children play together anytime in your eyes.
All of these activities not only help prevent obesity, reduce stress, and increase self-esteem, they also increase concentration and school performance, as well as cognitive functions, social skills, leadership skills, and collaboration.
2. Unstructured Play and Playful Family Learning
Establish a time of day where everyone does something together at the end of the day and the weekend. Walking, swimming, cycling, family educational board games, listening to music and dancing, skipping rope, or playing soccer, depending on your age and preferences. Quality family time will contribute to balanced emotional development. Playing for a time only stimulates creativity, autonomy and the ability to self-regulate.
We live in a society where we overburden children with activities or we think that if we don’t organize activities for them, we don’t do our job well. On the contrary, paradoxically, the more we organize their time so that they do not get bored, the more we transmit to them that they alone are not able to entertain themselves and be independent, and we will build people who are not very autonomous or without the ability to decide for themselves what they want.
They need time for themselves to gain self-confidence and exercise their imaginations. And if they have siblings, separate time to disconnect and rebalance to play again together later.
3. Travel, Go Camping or Go to a Summer Camp
Traveling and going to the camps gives children great benefits to develop socially and emotionally and generates a new attitude towards life and towards others. It also allows you to disconnect from routine and stress, live unforgettable experiences, find yourself, open your mind, learn about other realities and cultures, etc.
Children are no exception throughout the journey, they enjoy good times, they develop more rational, reflective and critical thinking, and they also acquire new values and skills of an emotional and social nature.
It also serves to increase observation skills, which will help children take a more critical and reflective role in life.
They will see new realities, cultures, different languages , and new ways of doing and will enhance their adventurer and explorer sense. They will uncover their curiosity and they will learn to be more respectful and tolerant of others and the environment.
Traveling creates unforgettable memories and experiences that will accompany children throughout their lives.
4. Housework and Autonomy
Encouraging them to participate in age-appropriate housework, school hours make it difficult for them to get involved. Children who participate in household chores are more balanced and have better relationships with others. The capacity for self-discipline and self-care promote self-esteem and self-confidence.
They can prepare their breakfast, take part in preparing meals, setting and clearing the table, tidying up their rooms, picking up and folding their laundry, helping with the family pet or cleaning some part of the house or helping in the garden. Summer provides more time and calm to start them in these routines.
5. Practice and Refresh Academic Learning
Summer means a new context to continue learning, provide your children with half an hour a day of reading or practice with summer notebooks, or drawing and painting tasks if they are younger so that they maintain their study routine and review the learning of the school year.
Another way to keep them active and make significant new learning is to provide visits of cultural interest, to museums, exhibitions, aquariums, zoos or historical places, as part of family activities. And if they are older, travel with them to places of historical or cultural interest. This type of learning will help them expand their perspective of the world and increase their knowledge.
6. Establish New Routines
During the school year all the activities of the children and the family are highly structured. Summer is a radical change. It is necessary to maintain rhythms and routines related to different activities. Plan the days during the week: scheduled play activities, reading time, free play, family games, reading, relaxing outdoor activities and excursions so that they follow a regular structure every day and every week. Plan with them. It is important to maintain basic routines:
- Sleeping hours: It is important for a balanced neurological and physical development that they do not go to sleep late and do not sleep until late in the morning. They will be in a better mood, they will perform and they will enjoy more than what the day can offer them.
- Meals: Maintaining a regular eating schedule and taking advantage of the summer to eat more fruits and vegetables will help establish healthy routines. They can participate in preparing meals that are lighter in the summer, and there is also no pressure from school schedules.
- Exercise Time: Avoid excessive sedentary lifestyle on the sofa in front of the TV.
- Television and Screens: Try to avoid them as much as possible. Especially that they are not between meals and an hour before bed. And remember that no screens before the age of 3 to 5 years 1 hour a day maximum. In our psychology center in Barcelona, we treat these new addictions.
In conclusion, summer means a window of opportunity to redefine and establish new rhythms marked by daylight hours and the increase in family time available. We can create calmer and less structured, but predictable, schedules and routines to stimulate tranquility, security, creativity, contact with nature, and social relations.