Over the summer, without classmates or schoolwork, many children find themselves a little bored.
"Planning is key to enjoying valuable time together," says Cecilia Mendiola, Senior Child Life Specialist at Children's Health℠. "Activities such as drawing, painting and journaling are a few ways children can express their feelings and help develop positive coping skills during the summer." Mendiola suggests ways to help your child have a fun and fulfilling summer.
Summer boredom busters
1. Create a routine
A routine shapes your child's day and week, helping them understand what to expect and establishing a sense of normalcy. While you don't need a strict schedule, a reliable routine gives your children – and you – something to look forward to.
One way to have a fun routine is to have themed activities for each day or week. For instance, Monday can become "Music Mondays," where your children take virtual lessons in the afternoon or have a dance party in the evening. Or, you may have "Wet Wednesdays" with a fun time in a sprinkler or pool.
If your schedule allows, choose one day each week or every other week to take a family "field trip," – which might be checking out a new local park or a museum or taking a day trip to a nearby town for lunch and exploration. Let your children help you determine each day, so they feel invested in the fun and help you think of activities.
2. Try new hobbies
Summer is the perfect time to take up a new hobby. Talk to your kids about their possible interests to learn what might work for them. Many kids enjoy hobbies such as:
- Computer programming
- Knitting or sewing
- Playing music
Finding a hobby your child is passionate about can help keep them entertained for hours all summer long.
3. Set summer goals
Talk with your child about setting a measurable, achievable goal for the summer, whether it is reading a certain number of books, a physical fitness goal or learning all about a topic like dinosaurs. Help them measure their goal throughout the summer with weekly check-ins or fun charts. This can help keep them motivated to move toward their goal.
Relatedly, check out if your local library offers a summer reading program. These typically give kids a small reward – such as a free book – for meeting daily or weekly reading goals. They can even participate with siblings, neighbors or friends from school and make it a friendly competition! Participating in a summer reading program is a great way for kids to work towards their summer goals and can prevent learning loss.
4. Keep moving
Physical activity has numerous benefits, from improving sleep to preventing weight gain. Many outdoor activities, such as playing in the yard or taking a family walk, are great options. You can also try activities, such as:
- Blowing and chasing bubbles
- Dance parties
- Follow the Leader
- Jump rope
- Kid-friendly workout videos
- Relay races
- Simon Says
5. Make an activity jar
Sometimes, it's just hard to decide what to do, or kids may argue about which activity is best. Take the stress out of it by leaving activities up to chance with a boredom buster jar. Have each family member write down activities they would like to do on sheets of paper. Activities might include:
- Bike riding
- Fort building
- Running through a sprinkler
- Scavenger hunt
- Water balloon fight
When you find everyone sitting around bored, pull an activity out of the jar and do it.
6. Plan an adventure
As the Texas heat allows, get outside this summer! Plan ahead and make a list of possible options, such as:
- Doing a scavenger hunt through your neighborhood or town
- Going to a drive-in movie theatre
- Trying our parks or hiking trails
- Taking a camping trip – a nearby site or in your own backyard
- Visiting historical landmarks or sites
- Checking out murals in your city
7. Tackle a project together
Many people take on home improvement projects during the summer. This is a perfect way to get kids involved if you've meant to repaint a room or landscape your patio.
Enlist your child's help with a house project. Kids may not enjoy this one as much, but it prevents boredom. Involve them in a house project such as cleaning out a closet or redecorating a room – whatever you need help with and think they can handle at their age.
8. Go virtual
Many camps, museums, libraries, zoos and classrooms now feature online programming – and many of these are free to the public. Help your child find virtual activities they love, like story times, concerts or guided online tours. Keep a schedule of these and add them into your routine for easy, repeated activities.
You can also make an effort to stay connected virtually with friends and family. Schedule times to connect throughout the week.
9. Give back
Help your kids help others by giving back to your community in some way. Your child might:
- Donate blood (if you have teenagers)
- Donate food to a food bank
- Donate toys or clothes to those in need
- Mow the lawn of a senior citizen in your neighborhood
- Write letters or create cards for people in nursing homes
Giving back helps your child feel like they are doing good in the world and gets their minds off themselves for a while. Plus, teenagers may need service hours as part of high school graduation requirements, which can give them a head start.
10. Practice self-care
Everyone in the family – parents and children alike – need to practice self-care to help release stress. Ensure everyone has quiet time for themselves, whether that means going for a jog, taking a nap or reading in the afternoon.
The whole family can also try mindfulness and meditation activities which have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety.
Don't be afraid of boredom
Most importantly, don't feel you need to fill every second of your child's day. Boredom is a good thing. It can help children gain independence, improve their problem-solving skills and expand their creativity. While it is great to schedule activities, it's also good for your child's development to have them figure out how to deal with their boredom on their own.