Every August I hear parents say “I will be so ready for school to start up!” After weeks of trying to occupy, entertain, and monitor their children, they often relish the chance to get back into a routine of six hours or so of kids at school. Whether you are trying to get to work every day while arranging for child care or trying to get things done at home while working around caring for children, summer poses a different stress on families. Maybe summer just snuck up on you this year and you don’t even have a plan. Just to add to the stress, keep in mind that children can lose as much as a full grade level in reading and math just over those 10-11 weeks they are out of school!
If you are a family of means you have options that others do not – just be sure to take advantage of them. Camps, courses, family projects, visits out of town, family vacations and tours can all provide wonderful ways to learn new things, meet new people, and further curiosity.
If you are a family that is working hard to make ends meet, you may need to be a bit more creative. But there are ways to stimulate your child’s world and maintain some sanity for yourself.
Consider these options to beat the summer struggles:
- Parks and Recreation Centers: check out the one nearest you to see what offerings they have for the summer.
- Volunteer projects: Depending on the age of your child, there may be opportunities for them to contribute their time to work with a local group, church or nonprofit. Or you can create a volunteer project to help someone in your neighborhood or family.
- Homework project: Create an assignment for your child that will require them to learn something new and tell or write about it.
- Local field trips: There is much to see and do in this area of North Carolina. Consider seeing some sights after work or on the weekends – whatever your schedule allows. Farms, markets, national forests, parks, museums, art galleries, outdoor concerts, and others offer new discoveries at little or no charge.
- Trade off kid-time with a trusted friend or relative: Take turns keeping each others children and make it more than babysitting. Take them somewhere or plan an activity for them at home – plant a garden, create an art display, put on a play – it doesn’t have to cost a thing.
Here are a few sites that can offer more specific ideas:
- wncparent offers a guide to summer camps. Go to their website and look for “latest issues”, find the March issue which lists summer offerings.
- macaronikid is a local blog with lots of ideas for parents
- Call NC2-1-1 and ask for summer programs for kids
- Go to Hands On Asheville-Buncombe and look for volunteer opportunities for families or youth
Don’t let your summer go to waste, and most importantly, don’t let your child’s summer go to waste. There is much to learn outside of a classroom!