The school year has nearly wrapped up and even for those of us who have yet to wonder what’s going to happen for those months when the kids aren’t in the classroom, there’s still a bit of dread that sets in about what to do with the family during the summertime.
With preschoolers – really with any kid – summer is all about a bit of freedom. We talk a ton about keeping kids brains working and not having them lose all of the information that they pile up during the school year. But, instead of parking them in front of workbooks and sending them off to a summer full of classes, many child development professionals are recommending one simple technique for getting kids to engage, entertain themselves and even learn all summer long – get them outside.
To play on the cliche that the world is a giant classroom, here are 10 ideas for planning your kids summer break where you know secretly they are learning like crazy and all they are thinking about is all of the collection of good times they’ll be bragging about in September.
1. Hit the tide pools. Check the tide charts and head out to great beaches such as Seal Bay Beach or Pt. Holmes just before low tide and you’ll find hours and hours of incredible sea life, lots of chances to splash around and great places to dig out the sea life ID books. Buckets, a water bottle and sunscreen are about the only gear needed.
2. Hang out at the water park. Whether you are in Cumberland or Courtenay, the water parks are a great place to cool off, run around and let off some steam for the younger crowd. Take a picnic and a good book for mom or dad and ahhhh, super fun.
3. Sand castle and fort building. We often park ourselves out at the Goose Spit or Air Force Beach on sunny days when playing is in order. It’s pretty darn rare that we don’t run into at least a couple of friends out there who are up for a day of castles and forts. Bring an umbrella and it’s a casual, laid-back day of fun in the sun.
4. Join the library Summer Reading Club. This year’s theme is Reading Rocks! Get out, have fun at the library and keep reading over the summer break. Come to any branch of the Vancouver Island Regional Library sign-up your child anytime after June 25. Participants receive a reading record to track their reading and a bookmark, stickers and other little prizes. Children will visit the library, bringing their reading record and receive ballots for the weekly and final book draws. This year the library will give away 100 books in book draws! Fun summer programs such as craft days, storytelling and so much more will be held throughout the summer.
The club is designed for all reading levels, including teens and babies, and open to all children in the Comox Valley. The Read to Me program is designed for children ages 0-5 years who are not yet reading on their own and the regular Summer Reading Club is for those reading on their own (5-12years). Teens and Tweens join the Teen Reading Club online at http://www.teenrc.ca/
5. Keep a summer journal. School-aged children can create a collection of summer stories, drawings, cartoons, clippings or collections that let them look back on their time off and see what meant the most to them while you know they’re practicing their writing and plugging into their own sense of creativity.
6. Become a scientist for a day. The Courtenay Museum has all kinds of fantastic science-based one-day classes throughout the summer that give kids a chance to try some cool science projects out.
7. Dig for dinosaurs. Get out on several of the rivers around the Comox Valley and spend your summer digging for fossils along the shoreline. The Courtenay Museum has regular guided tours and it’s a great way to discover all of the amazing things that used to live here and left their mark in rock.
8. Visit one of the amazing small museums along the coast of Vancouver Island. From the Bones Project whale museum in Telegraph Cove and the great military history and chance to check out decommissioned planes at the Comox 19 Air Force Museum to the Maritime Heritage Museum in Campbell River and the coal mine recreations of the Cumberland Museum these mini slices of history are great ways to get kids plugged in, learning and checking out some of the incredible past of Vancouver Island.
9. Eat lots of ice cream and watermelon. Outside, without the worries of drips or messes, this is one of the best parts of summer. Mix in a trip to the Hands On Farm at the Filberg in Comox or the Miracle Beach Nature House in Black Creek and you can’t miss.
10. Have a backyard camp out. Even if getting out into the forest for the weekend seems impossible, set up the tent, bust out the board games and park yourselves under the stars in your backyard. This is an amazing way to connect with your kids, get out of your regular home routine and really have some fun together without the stress and craziness of a weekend away.
Ah, summer. Time to play.:)