School is out for the summer, and the kids are home for eleven weeks. What can a parent do, whether the kids are home all day, or at camp all week, to keep a child’s mind engaged. You don’t have to give children worksheets and drills to keep them thinking this summer. Summer is the time to let kids have fun, and keep them active!
Let children discover their own creativity. If you have a video camera, or even a video camera on a phone, let children plan, write and create their own short movie. Let them go outside and explore nature and take photographs of the insects and animals they find, and then have them make a slideshow or photo book of the things they found. Get out the paper, scissors, glue, cardboard boxes, magic markers, and various art supplies and see what kind of creations they can create without any instructions from you!
Have international nights throughout the summer – have the children research a country, its culture and its food, and then have them help you prepare a dinner representative of the country. Have them present age appropriate information about the country to the rest of the family during dinner. A kindergartener might draw a flag; a high school student might do much more in depth research.
If you are at home with the kids, have day camp at home. Plan crafts and activities for the week based on a theme, and end the week with a field trip. For example, if you have an outer space theme one week, you could end the week with a trip to the NASA Goddard Visitors Center in Greenbelt. Or, if you are making jewelry one week, you could end the week with a visit to see the Geology, Gems, and Minerals at the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History.
Of course there is always the Summer Reading Club at the Anne Arundel County Public Library. Just as during the school year, children should continue to read every day during the summer. Click here for information about registration, reading lists and events across the county.
Explore the corners of our county. We have some beautiful parks all over the county. For more information about the parks around the county, and all of the facilities available at the parks, visit the Anne Arundel County Recreation and Parks website.
Summer is also a wonderful time to appreciate the arts. The County Department of Recreation and Parks also hosts two summer concert series, at Downs Park, and Quiet Waters Park. Click here for the schedule
If you want the kids to get a little bit of exercise, but it’s a rainy day, sign up for Kids Bowl Free. Kids under 16 can get two free games every day all summer, but shoe rental is extra. For about $25, you can add on a pass for up to 4 adults to bowl with the kids, 2 games, every day, all summer. There are several county bowling alleys participating.
And when the heat of summer gets to be too much, and you just want to relax and see a movie in the air conditioning, several of our local theaters offer free or dollar movies during the week. For more information for dates, times and schedules, click the links below.
Bowtie Cinemas at Harbour Center in Annapolis offers free summertime movies.
Marley Station 8 at Marley Station Mall offers dollar movies.
Cinemark Theaters at Arundel Mills Mall offers dollar movies.
Please post more of your great ideas for kids of all ages - I know other parents would be grateful to find out what ideas others have found to be great summer activities.
Summer is a fun, memorable time for kids. And it should be memorable for parents, as well. Enjoy the summer, and this time with your children.
Note: This post was written by Teresa Milio Birge, a Board of Education member from District 32 who resides in Odenton, MD. She has been on the Board for nearly 4 years of her 5 year term. She is hoping to make it through the summer without hearing "Mom, I'm bored" too many times.