"Mommy, I'm bored."
I'm determined those words won't be spoken by my 7-year-old son this summer. During summer vacation, and I plan on keeping him occupied and active, while having fun at the same time.
It can be challenging for parents to find the right balance of activity and free time for their kids over the summer. We want our children to enjoy summer vacation, but for some, too much idle time can lead to boredom. As much as I would love to think that swimming in our pool and playing with Legos will be enough entertainment for my son, I know better.
Last summer, I learned the hard way that Ryan likes to keep busy, and he enjoys only so much free time before he starts complaining about having nothing to do. Since March, I have been researching kids' summer camps offered around the area. There are plenty to choose from, but I found many to be expensive. I had to pick wisely so I could keep my son engaged without spending too much.
We only have one short vacation planned, which leaves the rest of the summer wide open. I got out my calendar and started compiling a list of camps that he would enjoy, had good hours and were reasonably priced. My son plays baseball for Keystone Little League, so naturally I knew a baseball camp would be a good fit.
I signed him up for three baseball camps, one of which is with the Clearwater Threshers. It'll be a great experience for him to practice his skills while learning from professional coaches and players. I also enrolled him in vacation Bible school at our church and found an arts-and-crafts camp at another local church. All of these camps will allow him to have fun while learning different things and making new friends.
In addition to summer camps, I want him to keep up his academic skills so he'll be ready for school in August. We will be enrolling in the Summer Reading Program at the public library, which is a great way to keep kids motivated to read over the summer. To fine-tune his writing skills, I bought him several notebooks so he can keep a journal during the summer months.
During the school year, kids have constant structure. Over the summer, the day isn't dictated by the school bell. It can be a good opportunity to relax, slow down or take a vacation. Some kids thrive with free time, while others crave the daily routine that school provides. It's important to find a sense of balance for kids so they can have a summer that is enjoyable as well as engaging.
(Danielle Hauser is a married mother of two who lives in the Westchase, Fla., area.)
(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, shns.com)