For many families, with summer comes summer camps. While these camps can help you keep your children safe and engaged during the months off of school, there is also room to let the kids run without a schedule.
According to Dr. Alvin Rosenfeld, a psychiatrist on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and author of ‘The overscheduled Child,’ “boredom is not necessarily our children’s enemy. It can stimulate [children] to think, create, and hear the soft murmurings of their inner voice, the one that makes them write this unusual story, draw that unique picture, or invent some new game.”
If the very thought of running without a schedule throws you into a tailspin, here are some ways to create free flowing, creative time during the summer and still allow downtime.
For the go-with-the-flow parent: Create a list of fun activities, both inside and outside of the house, for the kids to do. Let your kids create the list with you. Write the activities on strips of paper and then throw them in a hat or bowl. Every day, pull one out of the bowl and that is the daily to-do.
For the “I need a schedule” parent: Create themes for each week of summer. This gives direction yet allows the flow of creativity and exploration. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Art Fun: Grab books from the library on different artists. Read up about them, check out their art style and then have the kids create their own masterpieces based on the techniques the artists used.
Beach Bonanza: spend the week at the beach. Pick a new beach each day and explore Maui. Have the kids draw pictures of the different shorelines when they come home.
Get Gardening: Do a little research at the library on what plants grow well in your climate. Take a field trip to the hardware store for supplies, plants and seeds. Let the kids get dirty planting and then give them the responsibility of watering their new garden.
The trick is to make each day or week 1/3 scheduled and 2/3 free flow play. Look for those teachable moments but let your kids lead the way. Remember, summer isn’t only about camps and schedules; it’s a time for the kids to explore, create, relax and best of all make memories!