Top 10 Educational and Enriching Things to Do With Kids This Summer

School is out, or it will be within a few short weeks. Your children might be anticipating long, lazy days of watching Netflix and playing video games. You might be checking your calendar, not knowing what to do to get the kids off of their electronics and out doing something productive and fun. It can be hard to keep kids entertained all summer, which is why we’ve put together a list of the top 10 educational and enriching activities to inspire you and your children!

little girl enjoys summer library fun with books on head

#1 Go to the Library

Children often lose some of their reading skills over the summer, which sets them back when school starts up again in August or September. Visiting the library on a weekly or biweekly basis gives kids the chance to keep up their skills by reading books of their choosing. Encourage them to choose books that roughly correlate with their reading level, but don’t worry if they enjoy books that are easier to read. Any reading will help them stay on track.

daughter rides father's shoulders as they tour their toqn

#2 Explore Your Town

There are likely fun, educational places in your own city or town that you have never taken your children to. If you were going to host family members with children the same ages as your kids, where would you think about taking them? Play tourist in your own town and explore the nearby attractions.

mother daughter cooking lesson

#3 Teach Them to Cook

During the school year, it can be hectic to get meals made and on the table in time to get the kids off to soccer practice and leave time to get homework done. During the summer, however, you might have more time. Teach your children how to make your family favorites and explore some new recipes together, too.

#4 Learn How to Take Photographs

Do you ever see a beautiful bird, a stunning sunset, or even an interesting insect? All of these are worth pointing out to your kids. If you have a camera (or even a smartphone!), you can also teach them how to take good photographs. Take a photography class together if you’re interested in making it into a hobby; check in with your local community centers to see if this type of class is available.

children on parents' shoulders at concert

#5 Attend Music Events

Does your city or town sponsor free music gatherings on summer evenings? Many areas do; it might be held on a town green, near the city hall, or at a park. These types of events can consist of hired bands or simply members of the community getting together to play instruments, sing, and dance. These are great opportunities to introduce your children to music and to help them become part of the community. Pack a picnic dinner and encourage them to dance and enjoy the music.

animation of welcoming exchange student

 

#6 Host an Exchange Student

There are organizations that bring teenagers from other countries to the United States for a few weeks or a month during the summer to learn a bit about American culture and to practice their English. This is a great way to learn more about another culture while extending hospitality to another young person. If you enjoy the experience, you might even consider hosting a student who is here for the academic year!

mother daughter art lesson

#7 Make Time for Art

Letting kids do art projects can be messy and inconvenient, but it’s so important to let them express their creativity. Stock up on art supplies like paper, crayons, paint, colored pencils, glue, kid-size scissors, googly eyes, feathers, beads, and anything else you can think of. Use a plastic cover on your table or set the kids up in the backyard on a nice day, and let them experiment.

popcorn and family movie time

#8 Introduce Them to Old Movies

While you might be trying to minimize time spent in front of the television, watching old movies with a parent or grandparent can be a great way to spend time together indoors on a rainy day. Choose flicks you enjoyed as a child. One caveat: If it’s been decades since you have last seen a childhood favorite, check out the rating on a site like Common Sense Media. More than a few parents have been surprised by some of the content in movies they enjoyed as children.

family camping trip

#9 Go Summer Camping

“There is perhaps nothing that says childhood summer quite like camping,” says Angela Stringfellow, senior editor at Family Living Today. You can make it a week-long trip in an RV, find a camp that has air-conditioned cabins, or just pitch a tent in your backyard. Whatever type of camping appeals to you, be sure to roast marshmallows, catch fireflies, and sing around a campfire for memories that will last your child well into adulthood.

mother and two daughters volunteer at soup kitchen

#10 Volunteer Together

Making a difference in your community is a wonderful way to round out the summer and add some enrichment to your child’s life. Volunteering can include playing with kitties or puppies at the animal shelter, handing out groceries to food pantry patrons, or helping an elderly shut-in with chores around the house. Working together to serve the less fortunate will be a habit that your child can practice for a lifetime.

What are your best ideas for keeping kids busy, engaged, and learning this summer?

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Kars4Kids Safety App May Save Your Baby’s Life


Kars4Kids Safety App May Save Your Baby's Life

Kars4Kids Safety app? We’ve updated it. Are you still driving without it?

If so, the facts should stop you cold: babies are dying in hot cars, all over America.

  • Total number of U.S. heatstroke deaths of children left in cars, 2015: 8
  • Total number of U.S. heatstroke deaths of children left in cars, 2014: 31
  • Total number of U.S. heatstroke deaths of children left in cars, 1998-present:  645
  • Average number of U.S. child heatstroke fatalities per year since 1998: 37

That’s the reason Kars4Kids developed Kars4Kids Safety, and it’s the reason we’ve now updated the app to make it more intuitive, Safety App screenshot1more user-friendly. We’ve made it something you’ll want to use. Something that might save your baby’s life.

Last year, the focus of the Kars4Kids Safety app campaign was Forgotten Baby Syndrome (FBS) and how perfect parents can’t fight back against the perfect brain storm that causes the syndrome. It’s just the way the brain works under stress. Here’s what we wanted to get across: FBS says nothing about parenting ability.

We tried to make the point that even YOU need this app, because FBS is not about poor parenting. We didn’t want a parent’s pride to stand in the way of offering this extra layer of protection to his child. And by the way, the app is free–we just want your baby to stay safe.

This year, in addition to taking the Kars4Kids Safety App to the next level, from adequate to wow, we chose to focus on the way heat rises to unbearable, and yes, deadly levels inside a closed car inside of a few short minutes. We show what it’s like for an adult to sit inside a closed car on a summer’s day in this video:

If an adult can’t take 15 minutes of sitting in a hot car with temperatures rising all the time, just imagine how it is for an infant or toddler. It hurts to think about it.

But as parents, do we really have a choice?Updated Kars4Kids Safety App, Alert

This summer is already proving to be hotter than usual. Eight babies have already died from being left in cars. We know that the number of infant deaths due to heatstroke from being left in cars is bound to rise as the summer heat reaches its peak.

The Kars4Kids Safety App prevents all-too-preventable deaths by alerting you to check the backseat of your car to make sure you haven’t left your little one behind. It works by pairing the Bluetooth function of your car with your phone. When you leave the car, an alert goes off reminding you to check you’ve taken baby with you.

Kars4Kids Safety App: New Features

You can set the app to automatic, so that it always alerts you to check the backseat of your car for baby, or you can schedule the app for specific times, for instance, the time you normally drop off or pick up your child from daycare. You can also just let the app let you decide whether or not you want to turn on the alert when you’re getting ready to drive.Updated K4K Safety App, Alert settings, Alert ringtone

The updated Kars4Kids Safety App is also  more attractive, which makes it more likely you’ll enjoy using it. You can upload your baby’s photo so that it shows in the background when the app kicks in and during alerts. Altogether, this new version of the Safety App is sleek, beautifully designed, and a pleasure to use.

There’s no question that Kars4Kids is having an impact and helping to raise awareness of Forgotten Baby Syndrome. Last summer, Kars4Kids sent out over 10,000 informational posters to pediatricians’ offices and guess what? They called and asked for more. We even had interested parents calling in to our customer service representatives to ask questions about what they can do to protect their dearest possessions: their babies.

So what can you do to make sure your baby stays safe this summer? Download the Kars4Kids Safety App from the Google Play store. And make sure you share this post with your friends.

It just may save a life.

 

Summer Parenting Goals: How Close Are You?

Summer parenting goals are like New Years’ resolutions. It’s better to keep the list short and sweet, or you’re liable to find them too difficult to pursue. In any event, with summer vacation winding down to its inexorable end, it’s good to think back to where you were at the start. What had you intended to accomplish with your children? Have you achieved your parenting goals for the season?

I set my sights low this season, in part because I had an extended business trip away from my family, so my time with my children was considerably shortened. But that doesn’t mean I had no goals at all. My goal this summer was to teach my children to scrutinize the articles they read online rather than accept them at face value.

I’m a news junkie, you see. I devour every piece of news I can get my hands on. But I worry that my kids see me consuming the news and don’t see the internal mental process I use to sift through what I read. I worry they’ll mimic my outward behavior without having learned the art of critical thinking.

The Fantasy

Therefore I imagined holding forth to a rapt audience of two (my two youngest children) on how to spot what is missing in a news piece; how to track the origins of a story; and how to determine whether or not a news item is credible.

This goal was part of an ongoing campaign to make the most of a situation in which my kids spend most of their waking moments on their various computer screens. I’d noted that kids tend to repeat what they read on the Internet as truisms. The other day my youngest son, for instance, mentioned to me something he’d read online: that people who talk to themselves have higher IQ’s.

He meant to say something kind to me. I am infamous in our immediate family, for talking to myself without any realization that I am doing so. I made an appreciative noise and asked if he could tag me on the article so I could read it for myself.

“Sure thing,” he said.

Not long after, I had a notification that I’d been tagged by him on a post. I opened the post and instead of the article I expected, the link took me to a meme. Not a meme with a link to a credible, scientific source, but a meme from a dubious website specializing in lists of interesting “facts.”

 

This put me in a sticky situation. My child meant to say something kind to me and it wouldn’t do to tell him that his source wasn’t credible. If anything, he expected appreciation for being so nice.

I “liked” the post and while I was thinking of what I might comment, his older sibling jumped in and said in a smart-alecky way, what I’d refrained from suggesting, namely that “People who listen to the internet are more likely to be gullible.”

Sibling rivalry much?

Summer Parenting Goals: How Close Are You?

Sheesh. Big brother had put me into a bind by expressing what I’d thought but had refrained from saying.

Maybe I was wrong (do parents ever know for sure they are doing the right thing?) but my gut sense prodded me to react to the intent, rather than to the content of this thread. By sharing the meme, Little Bro was being nice. By responding as he did, Big Bro was being mean. So I responded to the meanness. I affixed my own comment:

“People who insult other people are likely to have poor characters.”

The Reality

And Boom. Just like that I’d launched a war. Big Bro wrote: “People who know what they are have good characters.”

Okay, so not really a war, but perhaps a limited skirmish, since I neatly nipped it in the bud at that point. I knew he, Big Bro, didn’t have much fight left in him. I left a pallid, “You wish,” and that was the end of that. The ugly thread I’d unwittingly elicited was over.

But seriously, what had happened to my original goal? My goal of teaching my kids to be intelligent readers?

It wasn’t lost, if that’s what you were thinking. Rather, I found my goal had evolved.

The Example

Big Bro had acted on his jealousy and displayed overt sibling rivalry with his nasty comment about his brother being gullible. At the same time, in thinking over his comment, I realized that I was already reaching my “summer” parenting goals without having been aware of that fact. Big Bro had absorbed the lesson over time: not to take at face value what is read on the Web. He’d absorbed it over time from my example.

On reflection I realized that while my goal was meritorious, it had to be an ongoing effort, and not a finite, three-month parenting fling. The message was, in fact, trickling down to my children and it would be only a matter of time until Little Bro got the message as well.

Big Bro’s hostility served a purpose in this respect as a vehicle for passing on the values he’d learned in our home—my values—to his younger sibling. So he did it in a mean-spirited way: isn’t that after all, perfectly normal behavior at this age, if not behavior to praise?

Someday, perhaps when they have children of their own, Big Bro will have learned to teach Little Bro the things he needs to know in a kinder, gentler way. That, at any rate, is the hope.

And with that thought, it occured to me that:

  • Children are always watching their parents so that the key to almost everything they learn goes back to the example parents set. If I am kind, my child will learn kindness. Eventually.
  • If I am a wise consumer of the Internet, my child will learn to be a wise consumer of the Internet. In the fullness of time.
  • If I am an able parent or a good sibling, my children will learn from my behavior and follow suit. God (or insert Higher Power of choice here) willing.

Summer parenting goals, as it turns out, are not a bit like New Years’ resolutions. You can have a list of parenting goals as long as your arm and still realize every last one of them. You just may not realize it’s happening over time, when in fact, the realization of your goals is happening at all times, all the time, for as long as you are a parent.

And perhaps beyond.