Summer Activities: Boredom Busters and Resisting the Summer Slide

Summer is here! This means more hours for fun, more opportunities to hear the word “I’m bored!” and tons of opportunities for learning.

Resource Round Up

Rather than recreate the wheel we wanted to share the incredible work of friends and colleagues who’ve done a great job compiling lists and ideas for summer fun.

  • Digital Fun for Creative Kids – An incredible list of Apps and digital tools from Common Sense Media that encourage kids to create, tell stories, code, build, and create art and media. Blow the old idea of a couch potato out of the water and get your kids actively creating online. (All Ages)
  • Do The Summer Countdown – Five simple steps to keep your kids’ brains and bodies active all summer long from Sprockets. This organization also has program ideas for teens in Minnesota. Look for a similar resource in your state! (All Ages)
  • Summer FunEducation.com always has a great list of activities, printables, and games. (Pre-K and Elementary)
  • Stuck in a summer rut? Look at Pinterest. Just search “summer fun” on Pinterest and you will come up with all kinds of incredible ideas. DIY lava lamps? You got it. Don’t have time for that? Try a backyard alphabet hunt. (Pre-K and Elementary)
  • Make space for free play. Whether your kids are at a school-based program, summer camps, or at home with you this summer, carve out time for free play.

Summer Time is Learning Time

Many families struggle to find appropriate activities for their kids and teens after schools close their doors for the summer. We obviously have to have a national conversation about how to provide better funding for accessible, high quality and developmentally appropriate summer programs (many of which have been shown to reverse the summer slide). In the meantime, there are things that ALL parents can do with the children and youth in their lives to ensure that summertime is also learning time:

  • Read, read, read! Then read some more. Visit the library, read out loud, start a book club, attend events at the library, create a cozy reading space in your child’s room or in the backyard. Let your teens choose what to read and avoid criticizing their choices. Instead engage them in a conversation about your concerns and see what they think about it.
  • Look for quality summer programs. Most communities have lots of options that range from free to very expensive. Visit the program and ask your child questions about what he or she is doing each day and what they like about it. Check out the National Summer Learning Association for more resources.
  • Don’t think flashcards. You won’t stave off the summer slide by making your child regurgitate information all summer. Summer is the time to scaffold classroom learning with experiences, conversations, ideas, and play.
  • Think engaged learning. Think of the world as your child’s classroom in the summer. Most communities have lists of free activities for different age groups – take advantage of museums, nature preserves, libraries, science centers, community events, music and art.
  • Revisit school-year subjects in fun ways. Have fun revisiting the major curricular areas from the year before. For example, if your child learned how to add, cook together and add up the tablespoons you need to add to the recipe. If your child learned about the civil rights movement, look for free speakers, films, or art that touch on the same themes.
  • Don’t schedule out free play. Evidence shows us that when kids engage in free play they are building executive function, conflict resolution skills, and creative problem solving. High quality programs shouldn’t be so over-scheduled that there is no time for free play. Here are some tips for getting the most out of unstructured time with little kids.
  • Use technology to create. There is nothing wrong with using technology in the summertime but avoid it becoming the default activity. Encourage creative uses of technology – create a family photo book, learn how to code, make a mini-documentary, or interview family members and edit the videos.
  • Move. The research on the benefits of exercise and movement for mood, cognitive development is overwhelming. Run, jump, bike, walk, play, spin, chase, kick, and throw.
  • Volunteer. Summer is a great time for kids and youth to lend their time and energy to causes that they care about.