Guest Post: Penny Pinching Tips to Keep Your Preschooler Active this Summer

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The following is a gues post from Emily Patterson on behalf of Primrose Schools.

You’re bound to hear those dreaded words at these once this summer “Mom I’m bored!”, even on sunny days its inevitable. Summer though can be a great time to take those bored times and turn them into fun and stimulating times.  Summer is a great time to let your child’s imaginations soar.  With demanding and time consuming school schedules over, it allows your child to participate in less structured and more imaginative activities.  The freedom of summer gives children large blocks of uninterrupted time to create projects of their own choosing that can last several days or even longer.

These activities can be a learning experience at the same time too.  Studies show that without stimulation, children can lose up to 60 percent of what they learned during the school year. Primrose Schools, a family of 200 accredited private preschools, suggests the key to overcoming summertime boredom and the “brain drain” effect is to encourage imaginative play and have a plan in place to keep children engaged during the summer months.

Here are 10 ideas parents can use to keep young minds active during the summer months:

  1. Beat the Boredom Jar: At the beginning of the summer, sit down with your family and brainstorm a list of activities that can be done alone or that you can enjoy doing together. Have you kids come up with their own ideas too, they’ll feel more involved in the project if they participate in the creation and idea generation.  The next time anyone in the family gets bored, they simply have to pull an idea out of the jar.
  2. Stories Alive: Make reading even more fun by finding ways to bring the stories to life, even doing something as simple as this can be fun. One example is go along with the book and have your kids create their own town, or scenes and props.
  3. Art Treasure Chest: Grab some art supples, construction paper, markets, glue, etc. and put them in a special box along with empty oatmeal boxes and paper towel rolls, colorful magazines, and bits of aluminum foil. Occasionally add a special surprise like chalk, stickers, or stamp pads so there’s always something new for the children to find and create their own crafts with.
  4. Family Performances: Break out old clothes or costumes and encourage children to make up characters and create a play to act out.  Let them decide the storyline and be the directors, actors, producers and musicians.  You can even dedicate a special night to be family performance night. Record or video the performances, and enjoy the replay. 
  5. Fort Building: Children love to build all kinds of structures–from small towns to large towers. Constructing forts or tents is an activity that can keep children focused and problem solving for hours. All the items you need can be found around the house–some chairs, cushions, blankets… and of course adult supervision.
  6. Cookbook Fun: Have you ever shared your favorite cookbook with your children?  Take it out and ask your children to choose a recipe to try. Measuring can be a fun and easy way to keep math skills fresh.
  7. Summer Scrapbook: Encourage everyone in the family to draw pictures of favorite activities and collect mementos from special events throughout the summer.   Children love to go back through scrapbooks and albums and tell about what happened at each occasion.  They will also be building their storytelling skills at the same time.
  8. Listening Game: Lie down in the backyard, in the den or at the park and listen.  What do you hear? Do you hear what I hear? Can you imitate the sound? This is similar to watching the clouds and naming the shapes, and it encourages everyone to slow down and focus on listening.
  9. Camping Out: Pretend to campout in the backyard. Plan a meal, pack a backpack and set up a campsite.  You might even decide to pitch a tent and stay for the night!
  10. Scavenger Hunt: Make a list or picture cards of common household items and have your children find the items on the list. Invite friends or neighbors to join in the fun to make it a competition.

 “Keeping children engaged with open-ended activities that stretch their imaginations during the summer months helps them develop their independence, creativity, and thinking,” said Dr. Zurn. “We want to help parents keep the “brain drain” at bay while their children play.”

So with these tips in mind, sit down with your family and make a plan for an engaging, imaginative and fun summer.

Submitted by Emily Patterson on behalf of Primrose Schools. For over 25 years, they have helped individuals achieve higher levels of success by providing them with an AdvancED® accredited, early child care services and education.  Through an accelerated Balanced Learning® curriculum, Primrose Schools students are exposed to a widely diverse range of subject matter giving them a much greater opportunity to develop mentally, physically and socially. Emily has written a number of articles on topics varying from bilingual learning to teaching the importance of volunteering.