What can my child do over the summer?

       Kids look forward to summer as a reprieve from school, a time to relax and have fun. Many ten- tot thirteen-year-olds, tired of homework and busy schedules, want to hang around and “do nothing”. At these ages, however, they still need supervision and planned activities during the summer, especially if both parents work outside the home.

      Without a schedule of activities and an adult nearby, kids may spend the summer watching TV, using the computer, playing video games, eating junk food, and hanging out with other children whose parents aren’t home. Leaving a child alone for a short time may be all right, depending on her age and maturity. But leaving her alone or even in the company of a young teenage sibling every day for several months is a mistake. At best, the summer will be boring and aimless. At worst, she will get into trouble.

      There are many alternatives to staying home all day, some inexpensive or even free. Some kids spend time at a pool, join swim teams, or play in various competitive leagues. Many park districts run supervised playground programs, and there are public and private day-camps, specialty camps, sleepover camps, lessons, classes, and summer school programs. Many of these activities offer bus service or help parents arrange carpools.

      If you aren’t available to drive during the day, your child’s choices will, of course, be determined by location, starting and ending times, and availability of transportation. As much as possible try to enroll her in programs of interest to her or ones her friends will be attending. Kids these ages are usually happiest doing whatever their peers do.

      If your child is going to sleepover camp for the first time, the separation may be emotional for both of you. One mother said, “I’m a little nervous. Actually, I’m a lot nervous.” To prepare her, try to visit the camp ahead of time, look at pictures, or talk to someone who’s been there. Talk to the camp director about concerns you or your child have. Let your child know that homesickness is natural, but that she’ll soon get involved in camp activities.

      Some ten- to thirteen-year-olds want to work during the summer. Under supervision—yours, a neighbor’s, or a friend’s—your child can care for pets, weed, mow lawns, or baby-sit. You or a relative also may have odd jobs she can do for pay.

       Summer is a good time to visit out-of-town relatives, catch up academically, or pursue interests in learning and the arts. Encourage your child to read every day, keep a journal, write stories, draw, start a collection, make animated flip books, learn to type, create a web page, play an instrument, build, invent, make up plays, sing, act, sculpt, play chess, or learn a new craft. All of these activities can be entertaining, but too often they’re associated with school or lessons. If you take a relaxed approach—and if you pursue such activities yourself—your child will find that learning on her own can be enjoyable and satisfying.

       Finally, make time to be with her, even if you work all day. On weekends, evenings, and days off, get involved in her activities and interests. Make plans together—go biking, camping, shopping, or swimming. Go to a museum, a baseball game, a historical site, the library, or a park. Get ice cream together or go on a picnic. She needs your attention, involvement, and watchfulness. She’ll be spending less and less time with the family as she gets older, so enjoy her company now, especially during the summer when schedules and people are more relaxed.

Picture Credit : Google