Chicago Suburban Family

Education

FINISH SUMMER BREAK STRONG

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By Sara Marchessault

Summer vacation is here. Just a few months to enjoy before kids head back to the classroom. Back to routines, homework, and regular schedules.

It’s not unusual to feel as though our days are starting to get a little too relaxed at the end of summer. Goldfish and fruit snacks may start to become meals. Maybe the TV is on for a little longer than we mean for it to be. We parents start to count down the days until school starts.

But wait! What if there was something you could do to save the remaining days of summer? A way to get your kids energy back up, or even your energy back up, and enjoy the last few days of school break?

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Sometimes all we need is exposure to an activity or event that we don’t do all of the time. A new experience can eliminate boredom pretty quickly. The end of summer vacation is the perfect time to pull out ideas you may have had about cool stuff to do with your kids – or let your kids do on their own – and use one or more of those to pump a little zest into the rest of your break. Here are a few ideas to help you get started.

Painting. Projects that include lots of paint and several days to finish a painting simply do not happen all that often in school. Summer is a great time to let your kids enjoy the feel of a paintbrush in hand and create a piece of original art. Get them a large surface to paint on (canvas, wood), paint, brushes, and then let them look for inspiration. Home improvement shows and magazines are great resources for ideas for paintings you can do at home. Kids can also paint fabric, dishes, or even old furniture that could use a facelift.

Do you have a budding writer? Invite him or her to write a play or a movie. Encourage practice and memorizing lines. If there are several roles invite other kids to join in the fun and be actors. Are they ready to make videos? Give them a filming device and see what they can create.

Planning a day trip. This is not meant to be labor intensive for mom and dad – this trip is up to the kids. Let your son or daughter use a map to find a place they would like to visit. Encourage answers to questions about distance, what you will do when you reach your destination, and what you will eat that day. Let them plan a trip and then actually take the trip, maybe even letting your kids read the map to help you get there. You will find plenty to choose from in the ‘Best Day Trips’ section in this issue.

Cooking day. Or baking day. Let your kids plan a meal for you and your family. They can look through cookbooks and choose recipes they would like to make, determine the ingredients needed, shop, prepare the meal, and serve.

Designing and building. What can your kids construct? Can they build an obstacle course in the backyard? Bridges for toy cars to ride over kiddie pools? Boats to race down a nearby creek? This can be as complicated as original designs or as simple as a craft kit from a local hobby store. Encourage conversations about the decisions that need to be made during the building process. When it’s time to try out the functionality of the finished product, maybe video tape the experience, interview the builder to get a live comment about how it went, and if desired, share with family and friends.

Storing memories. Did your summer include a vacation this year? Do you have piles of pictures, printed or digital, that you would love to see organized into a scrapbook, photo album, or printed photo book? Photo storage and memory preservation projects can be completed with or without supervision. Invite your kids to create a piece of art that reflects a shared memory and the family can enjoy for years to come.

The best part of any of these projects is that it gets kids engaged in activities that may require reading, following direction, solving problems, math, and even spatial reasoning. Not only will one of these cool projects get kids moving and grooving for the last days of summer, it can get them back into the routine of thinking like a student too.

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