Summer – the word that causes children across the country to breath a sigh of relief. It’s a magical time where children don’t feel the pressures of academics, and each day is filled with endless possibilities.
There’s just something so different about the summer months: the smell of dad firing up the grill, the long golden beams of light as the sun slips below the horizon and the carefree giggles of children lost in their own imaginations. Children take advantage of the extended hours of sunlight to jump rope, ride bikes and play make believe with friends – all without a care in the world.
Summer is a time that evokes some of our most cherished childhood memories, from taking family trips to discovering a talent for playing the piano. This is the time to enrich your keiki’s childhood and create long-lasting memories for them to celebrate for years to come.
If summertime offers a world of possibilities including summer camp, music lessons, math enrichment, dance and swimming, where do you begin? Consider all your options, and make a decision based on your child’s needs and interests.
Include Your Child in the Process
It’s important to listen to your child’s desires and pick up clues about his or her interests. Nurture their interest in music by suggesting guitar or singing lessons. If they don’t particularly enjoy it, it’s only for the summer, and it could steer you closer to determining where their true passions lie.
Make sure to research different possibilities before presenting them to your child. You want to be aware of your summer budget and how much you feel comfortable spending. Presenting the options beforehand might cause the little one to get her hopes up if her desired activity is out of your price range.
Day camp is great for families because it offers half or full day options. The hours are ideal for working parents who need to pick up their child after regular work hours. The longer hours will also provide a sense of stability since it models a regular school day.
In addition to being immersed in a fun summertime activity, the duration of camp also lends itself to creating friendships and solid bonds with other children that could last a lifetime. Whatever the situation might be, choose a camp and length that will fit your families’ needs and lifestyle.
There are a variety of different camps to choose from including traditional, foreign language, skateboarding or other types of sports. With so many options, your child will have the freedom to choose a camp centered on an existing hobby, or dabble in a new activity that sounds intriguing.
Consider including your child’s friends in on the fun. Your child will have a familiar face when faced with a new experience, which otherwise might be scary and intimidating at first.
Learning, Lessons or Leisure?
Childhood summer is the rare moment where we have the time and freedom to develop our interests or improve a certain ability. Young children might not be able to understand the benefits of a particular activity, so that’s where mom and dad step in.
If your child is struggling in an academic subject, or even if he is at the proper level, but you want him to get ahead, consider summer school or tutoring. Many schools offer individual subjects, so your child has the ability to focus on that one problem area instead of having to juggle six or seven academic subjects like during the regular school year. Also, the change of environment and teaching technique could have a profound impact on your child’s ability to understand new concepts.
Many locations offer a fun spin on traditional school subjects. Get your child interested in science by enrolling them in an insect or marine science exploration course. He or she may become more interested in reading and analyzing works of literature through theatre lessons.
Lessons and camps can also be an excellent way for children to take a break from the traditional school subjects and develop an interest in something new. Consider an instrument, horseback riding, magic, modeling, sports or swimming. Children will have the ability to focus on the activity in a way that might not be possible during the hectic school year. Many of these are phenomenal options to get the kids outdoors and exercising as well.
There’s nothing wrong with a stay-at-home summer, and this doesn’t literally mean you have to “stay at home.” As a parent, if you’re in the position of being able to spend the summer days with your child, take advantage of it, and plan fun activities in the home or around the island.
Consider spending a day at the North Shore. Enjoy spending time on the beach followed by lunch and browsing through the rustic shops filled with art, clothing and other unique treasures. Consider visiting the zoo or aquarium for a day of exploration and learning.
At home, collect photos from your outings, and create a scrapbook with your child to celebrate your summer memories. The home is also a great place to nurture your child’s love of art and music or practice a new language together.
Alternatives for Teens
Teenagers might be looking for a way to make some quick cash. If your child is not old enough to apply for a job, suggest mowing lawns or babysitting as a way to make money and develop a strong work ethic. Teens will obtain a sense of pride in the money they make since it was earned and not handed to them. They will also be likely to learn the importance of saving and not blowing all their hard-earned money on frivolous purchases.
Volunteering is also an option – and it looks great on college applications. Have your child choose a cause, and explain the importance of the work he will be doing. Volunteering is a rewarding experience in that your child will have the chance to contribute to a good cause.
If your child is of age, consider a driver’s education course. The summer months are the perfect time for teens to learn the rules of the road and obtain their driving permits or licenses. They will have enough time to rack up driving hours with mom, dad and their driving instructors.
Whatever summer activity your child participates in will have a lasting effect on his or her life. It could open the door to a new hobby, save him or her from falling behind in school or entertain their mind and inspire creativity. Remember that along with these activities, children deserve a little rest and relaxation, and they deserve those rewarding moments of simply being a kid. Summer will fly by, so soak up every moment – and keep the lemonade coming!