Stuff to Do During the Summer — Keeping Kids Busy While Teaching New Skills | Summer Camps, Reading Groups, and More

by Nindo Mom on May 19, 2011

If you’re like me and you have to work out of the home, you want to make your summer extra-special for your kids. Or maybe you’re lucky enough to be able to stay home with your kids full-time. Whatever your situation, there are lots of options when it comes to finding awesome activities for your kids to do this summer that will be both fun and educational, and can teach invaluable new skills that your child will use for years to come.

Occasionally, you’ll find that I’ll reference Southern Maryland in my examples. That’s only because I live in Southern Maryland, and I’m providing these specifics to give you an idea of the opportunities offered in some communities. This list isn’t at all meant to be comprehensive, and opportunities are always changing. In fact, I’ll probably need to follow up with a second post about summertime activities in the near future. but for now–here are some summer activities to consider for your child:

1. Summer Camp

Depending on the area where you live, you may have a variety of different options when it comes to what summer camps are available. Camps generally vary in cost depending on your child’s age, the camp schedule, and the prevailing rates where you live. In Southern Maryland, rates for summer camp range from $160 to $245 per week. A few camps that are in my town include:

  • Gymnastics

I had my son enrolled in gymnastics camp for 3 summers in a row. He loved being able to play on the gymnastics equipment–and, he got a lot of attention for being one of the few boys in the class!

The camp day was structured to have a before/after care sessions from 6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., and again from 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. During the actual “camp” part of the day, children were broken into 3 different groups based on their age. These groups would then rotate through activities, which included time in the game room and actual gymnastics time. I had to send in lunch, snacks, and drinks every day–except for Fridays, which were Pizza Days.

On  field trip days (every Wednesday), campers were taken on a local field trip that varied each week: locations included a water park, the local recreation center for rock climbing and ice skating, the movie theater, and a local Japanese steak house.  In addition to the weekly field trip, campers were taken to a local swimming pool every Friday.

Other camps offered in Southern Maryland include:

  • General Sports
  • Baseball
  • Recreation Center (rock climbing, gym area with basketball, ice skating)
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Faith-based
  • Circus stunts (taught by an experienced former circus clown)
  • Daycare-based, with differently weekly themes (may be home daycare facilities, or center-based facilities)
  • Tai Kwon Do
  • Karate
  • Theater/acting

How to Get Started

Call your local parks an recreation to find out about what camps they offer, or check their website. Check your local yellow pages or at your child’s school to find out about independently run camps.

2. Music Lessons

Studies have shown that learning to play a musical instrument increases a child’s intelligence, not to mention their ability to perform well in school. Playing an instrument also helps to relieve stress, is fun, and allows kids to develop their creative side–all fantastic benefits.

As an alternative to lessons for playing a musical instrument, you can also hire a local choir director or other singing professional to give you son or daughter singing lessons for the summer.

How to Get Started

Private or group music instruction can often be found at your local music stores, so make them among the first places you contact when researching your choices. Alternatively, speak with your child’s music teacher, or other music teachers working in the schools in your area to find out if they are available to give private lessons during the summer. Don’t forget to include private schools–or maybe even churches.

3. Hire A Teacher for the Summer

Because most teachers have off during the summer, many are eager to pick up some extra cash during the summer months.  By hiring a teacher for the summer for even just a couple of days a week, you can get your child caught up on any subject he or she had any trouble with during the school year, prepare them for the upcoming year, or study the next year’s subject matter so that your child will be that much ahead of his or her classmates–any of which can help improve your child’s grades by leaps and bounds! And that means things will be that much easier for your child–and for you–when the school year arrives once again.

How to Get Started

Contact the teachers at your child’s school in the grade level they’re about to enter (or a higher level) to see if any are available for hire during the summer. Don’t forget to check with teachers at private schools in your area. You can also consider placing an ad in the local newspaper.

4. Organize a Reading Group

In my Diary of a Wimpy Kid book 4 — Dog Days Review , Greg Heffley’s mom started a reading group for several of the kids the neighborhood. The kids would get together to read and discuss books that they had read.

The benefits of setting up a real summer reading club are numerous, and include having fun, spending time with other kids in the neighborhood in a positive environment, improving silent reading skills, and improving skills in reading out loud. Better reading skills can lead to improved grades in school, improved test scores, and greater understanding and enjoyment of reading for your child.

How to Get Started

Get in touch with your local library to see if they have any resources for residents interested in starting reading groups. Find out if  your group can meet at the library in an out-of-the-way area that would allow for quiet discussion. If you need help getting members, you can ask the library if they’d be willing to promote news of your reading group.

5. Swimming Lessons

Does your child know how to swim? Or could his or her skills use some improvement? Consider enrolling him or her in a swimming course designed for just his or her level.  In Southern Maryland, swimming lessons are offered for kids and adults of all ages and all levels of proficiency. They’re affordable, offered at your choice of locations, and are held at a variety of times for scheduling convenience.

When you give your kids swimming lessons, they’ll be having fun and getting their bodies healthy at the same time. And, they’ll be improving a skill that could very well save their life someday–or possibly even enable them to save the life of someone else.

How to Get Started

Contact your local parks and recreation to find out if they offer swimming lessons. You can also contact public pools in your area, community centers, and community colleges.

6. Library Activities

Often, your local library can be a wealth of things to do. Here’s a sample of summer events and activities offered by Southern Maryland’s library:

  • interactive music programs for young children and their parents
  • crochet and knitting classes
  • anime club
  • Saturday special story time
  • bilingual story time
  • summer reading program
  • puppet shows
  • teen / tween game nights (video and board games)
  • computer classes
  • intro to Microsoft Publisher
  • story time for therapy dogs (1st through 5th graders read to dogs for practice with out-loud reading)

How to Get Started

Call or visit your local library–or their website–to find out what kinds of programs and classes they offer. Southern Maryland libraries have an excellent resource for these items in the form of an online calendar they keep updated; they also offer online registration for all activities and email reminders.

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