Faith Spilling Over… Into Everyday Life

How to Help Your Kids Make the Most of Summer


make the most of summerIs it just my family, or does anyone else notice that when summer vacation starts, kids gravitate to computers and television? I’d love to say that our first week of vacation was a productive time for my kids to delve into their interests and pursue learning. Not so much. Instead, favorite TV shows, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube pull us like magnets.

A whirlwind visit home from Turkey means we’re spending summer on the road:  New York, Texas, El Salvador, Washington D.C., and South Carolina. I have to be careful not to let my kids slide between the cracks while we travel. Left to our own natural tendencies, my family will spend every minute of downtime we have plugged into computers and iPods.

This year, I decided to get proactive and come up with a plan to help my kids (and myself) have a better summer.

Get Unplugged

I insist on encourage no internet use until after lunch every day. We also set a time to unplug each evening. Another alternative is setting a time-limit on internet use, but that’s harder to monitor.

Get Spiritual

During the school year, we worked through Greenleaf’s Guide to Old Testament History. Each family member read the day’s passage, and after breakfast we discussed the questions. This summer we’ll use Navigators’ 5x5x5 New Testament Reading Plan, and everyone will share their favorite verse at breakfast.

Get Creative

Ask your kids what creative pursuits they’d like to try. Make a trip to your local hobby store and provide supplies to hobbyists or artists in residence. Have each family member try writing a short story. Learn to cook new things together.

Get Physical

Challenge your kids to exercise by taking a class, playing a sport, or going to the pool. Try an exercise DVD in the living room or a family walk in the evenings after dinner.

Get Smart

Encourage kids to learn something new. Check out classes on-line, at your local community center, or community college. Join the summer reading program at your local library; many provide fun weekly activities. With our family on the road this summer, my plan is simpler: challenge my kids to read one hour each day.

Get to Work

Let your kids learn life skills through a summer job or chores around the house. Assign each child a night to cook dinner. Let them do laundry, vacuum, and clean the bathroom. They may not love it, but why should you slave away doing all the household chores while your kids veg in front of the TV? If you’re like me, that’ll give you a martyr complex faster than anything!

Go for Family Fun

Talk with your family about what they’d like to do. Visit local museums. Take a day trip. Go to the ice cream shop. Have a movie night or play a game. Do something together for fun at least once a week.

When I shared these ideas with my kids, my daughter said, “Mom, every year you get on this same bandwagon, and it lasts about two weeks.” She’s right. So I’m crossing my fingers, sending up prayers, and hoping I can go the distance this summer, especially regarding internet use.

What are your summer plans? Any other ideas for helping kids make the most of summer?


Author: betsydecruz

I want to enjoy the everyday life God is giving me as best I can, even when the road gets bumpy. I love having fun with my teenagers, learning almost anything, and drinking dark roast coffee with my friends.

8 thoughts on “How to Help Your Kids Make the Most of Summer

  1. These are some great ideas, Betsy! I really struggle to manage my kids’ time during the summer, and the best way to attack this problem is to have a plan. I had a few ideas in place, but you’ve given me some other great ones to try. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks, Abby. I agree that it’s hard. So easy to let them stay occupied with TV and computer, so hard to be proactive! I find talking with my kids about “the plan” helps!

  2. I am sooo right there with ya! During the school year, there aren’t enough hours in a day, but during the summer there seems to be more than I can fill with stuff to do! We inevitably revert back to video games and tv, especially when the temp hits 100+ degrees:) Thanks for the ideas!!

    • Yes, Kristine! I find it hard especially because keeping my kids occupied seems to involve ME! And sometimes I’d rather kick back myself, know what I mean? May God give us all balance as we seek to rest ourselves, but also invest in our kids this summer.

  3. Your daughter’s comment has me laughing! That is sooo me too, to get all gung-ho about something and then fizzle soon after. But better to start and fizzle than never start at all….right?!? I love your goals and happy travels to you all.

  4. Thanks for the great suggestions, Betsy! I never needed ideas when my kids were little because there were always tons of things we all wanted to do. Unfortunately now all my teens want to do is play electronics. 😦

  5. Great ideas. Our main goal is to get in the habit of exercising more consistently. We even bought some tennis rackets to give us one more thing to do together. Now we just need to keep playing. I also give my kids a summer reading list that has both nonfiction and fiction. Usually I have some type of award for finishing the list. We are also traveling but am thankful we have been staying with others who don’t really watch tv and play video games which makes it easier for us not to. Otherwise that is also our go to when we get bored.

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