Weekends are harder than weekdays because the kids are home. They require constant entertainment and attention, 'something to do' or else they'll threaten you with a "Mom, I'm bored" attack.
Let Them Out...
Thank God these weekends are small. Two days, and then normalcy resumes, surrender to routine and acceptable
boredom-for which Mom is not to be blamed, only mean teachers with a malicious intent to exhaust them with homework.
Summer break? Ah, that's a totally different ball game. No homework. No routine. Not anything. This can very well crumble our nerves if we don't
plan ahead, and fast for our summer salvation.
Keep children engaged in the summer months with a healthy balance of fun and
learning-not only so they don't get bored, and consequently on our nerves, but, more importantly, so they gain the most value from this great stretch of time.
Think of it as a wonderful opportunity for being together with your kids, doing stuff you normally never get time for during the extended school year. There's a lot of learning that school simply cannot and does not take care of. There's a lot of friendly interaction and activity that gets no space during a competitive school year.
When parents ask me as a teacher, what they should review with their children over the summer break before they get back to school, I always tell them to review childhood fun. A few kids will require brushing up for math or language arts during the summer break, since school's routine is binding no more and they can focus on whatever remedial needs they have without a daily progressing curriculum. For them, summer break is a good time to catch up on whatever they missed during the year, so that they can be on mark for the next academic year. The problem, however, is the parents who exhaust their kids with a "summer of over
ambition" from one tutoring program to another, who then handover burnt out kids to the school in September in the new academic year.
Hence, my advice. Let them be kids, explore the world around them, with them, and let them camp at the library! There may be several summer camps offered around the area, where kids have an organized day of fun and learning, but my only contention with that is that yet again we leave our kids in someone else's hands when we could have had them all to ourselves to learn and find out more about them. If either parent is non-working or has the luxury of being at home with the kids, then we really should try to make the most of this time with them, and not without them.
Summer's for exploration. But whatever we decide to do, we need to make sure that we give our children the leeway to relax and slow down. Summer is a great time to step up outdoor fun, especially if you live in a place that survives a long winter. Frequent walks with the kids are really a great time to exercise and also bond. The little ones could be in strollers if you wish. Several stops are allowed. Unlimited time can be spent looking at maple leaves changing color, following butterflies, or even taking a rest to look at the clouds move.
There are other outdoor activities: Walks to the playground. Picnicking in the park, or even on your own front lawn or in your backyard. These are great fun for the kids. It's almost like turning the house inside out when all of God's other creatures too come out from their homes. Barbecuing or not, other meals are simple enough to enjoy outside in the open air.
Summer's also a wonderful time for all the exercise these kids need, whether it's cycling around the neighborhood, or playing soccer outside.
If you don't have a swimming facility nearby or a beach, children need not be deprived of water play. A small hose, sprinkler, or an inflatable pool can provide hours of fun for children. I remember my own little one cramming a small plastic baby tub of water into our two and half feet wide balcony with old plastic bottles and the like playing for hours on end. If the sun blazed too hot, I just temporarily covered the area with a makeshift shade that worked perfectly well.
Water play can continue as they wash your car, clean up the porch, and such. Engage the kids in small home projects like painting a fence or planting a garden. This gives them a wonderful sense of having contributed in real terms to a joint effort.
Planting a garden takes time and teaches children patience too. When we grew sunflowers and cucumbers, it was wonderful because these things grow fast, and they grow big too. The kids helped tend the plants and vegetables and thoroughly enjoyed picking them afterwards.
My fondest memories of my mom's vegetable patch are going by myself to get the finest bunch of fresh mint leaves for her. I'd go inspect the ladyfinger and the eggplant.
Even if we don't have a massive outdoor space, a lot of herbs and plants can be grown indoors or even out on a small balcony. For the children, it's just fascinating to merely experiment with the lifecycle of these plants. When my son was younger we always had a celery stick sprouting on the kitchen counter somewhere, or carrot tops balanced on pebbles to grow leaves, or popcorn seeds and apple seeds saved lovingly for our gardening experiments.
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