Summer is a time of freedom and relaxation! But too much freedom can lead to too much time glued to a screen.
While some screen/electronic time is fun and appropriate, too much can lead to our kiddos zoning out and not participating in life. They become sedentary, disengaged, and don't get fresh air for hours on end. Yikes!
The best way to overcome Electronic Zombie Syndrome is to have non-electronic activity ideas at your fingertips to keep your kids active and engaged throughout the summer.
Here are a few to get you started:
1. Develop his/her skill. What is it that your child is interested in? Find ways to develop and nurture that skill. Does she love cooking? Put her in charge of the family meal that night, from planning, to shopping, to preparing, to cooking, to serving. Depending on the age of your child, they will need some parental involvement, but stay back as much as possible and let your child use her creativity. (You'll have to drive her to the store, of course!)
2. Explore God's creation. Find a place your family has never been before and check it out. (No electronics allowed in the car! Have some real conversation.) Kiddos need activity and movement in their life, as do adults, so the more physical activity you can incorporate into their summer, and yours, the better. Take a hike, explore a cave, tour a botanical garden, visit a lake.
3. Create a crafting closet. This is the go-to place in your home where kids can find the things they need to be creative. This is a place they can have free access to, any time of day or night, to let their creative juices flow. Again, the items in the crafting closet will depend on their age, but you can have things like paint, construction paper, stickers, stencils, markers, crayons, scissors, tape, glue, colored pencils, sketch pads, etc. The crafting closet is an excellent thing to have ready for a rainy day.
4. Create your own summer camp. You (the parent) have a skill or talent! Create a summer camp around that skill. Invite your child's friends over and teach them that skill! Sewing, cooking, baking, science, tennis, soccer, gardening...you are good at something, and this is a great way to pour into the younger generation.
5. Learn a new sport as a family. In the coolness of the evening, grab your rackets and go play some tennis. Or, hit the soccer field together. Perhaps basketball is more your speed. There's something out there that your whole family will enjoy. Go find it!
6. Game corner. Create a cozy corner in your living room where you have some fun games and cards for your kids to access at any time. There are lots of options for all ages! If they don't have to go searching for the games or cards, they are much more likely to play.
7. Book challenge. Challenge your kiddos to read a certain number of books for a grand reward (maybe a trip to a water park) at the end of the summer. Incorporate smaller rewards throughout the summer to keep them interested and engaged in the Challenge. Keep a chart and write down all the books they read. It's fun for a child to see how much they are accomplishing! Again, creating a cozy little Book Nook, specifically for reading, can help to motivate your readers.
8. Creative writing. Start a Creative Writing Notebook for your child (make it special) and give him a writing prompt. Something like, "Charlie the dog got to spend one night at a carnival. Tell about his adventures!" Let your child's imagination run wild with this. Don't tell him how long it should be; just let him write. He can illustrate it, too, if he desires. After he finishes the first one, in a couple of days, give him another prompt! You and he will just keep passing the notebook back and forth for a fun summer of creative writing!
9. Keep some structure in their day. Freedom is great, but kids still need some structure, even in the summer. Declare certain hours as "electronic-free" hours where they can do anything (within reason!) other than electronics. And, when they are on electronics, teach them how to use them for brain-stimulating activities like researching a favorite animal or state. Electronics are fun for games, and there should be time allotted for that; but, they can also learn how to use electronics to further their own knowledge mastery. Learning how to type properly is another excellent skill to learn over the summer.
10. Volunteer. Find a place where they can volunteer their time and serve the greater good. There are all kinds of organizations who need volunteers, and yes, even young volunteers! Food pantries, animal shelters, churches, community gardens, a next door neighbor in need of assistance. Help your child to see a bigger picture by helping others.
I hope this list has gotten your creative juices flowing. I encourage you to use the ones that speak to you AND create your own list of Unplugged Activities that you can reach for in the middle of a long afternoon. Enjoy your summer!