The lazy, hazy days of summer will soon be upon us and while the thought of lounging outdoors, relaxing and soaking up the sun is appealing, everyone with children knows the reality is very different. With children, summer is a whole new round of challenges – safety, organization, and avoiding the brain drain among them. Read on to learn the best ways to tackle these summer challenges without spoiling any sunny fun!
Keep Kids Safe! New environments and new experiences over the holidays come with new safety challenges.
Before you start swimming…
- If you’re visiting a friend or relative with a pool, make sure it is fenced and the gate is locked or else always keep your child within sight.
- Teach your children to always ask permission before going into the water.
- Ensure nobody goes into the water alone by setting up a swimming buddy system.
- Always wear a Personal Floatation Device (PFD) on boats. Even good, strong swimmers can get into trouble if there is a boating accident.
- Check for the shallow end and deep end of the pool.
- Check the water temperate to avoid cold water shocking your body. This can stiffen your muscles and make it tougher to swim.
- Check out the Summer Safety Journal for Kids.
- Sunglasses can protect little eyes from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. But did you know… not all glasses are created equal? Darker glasses do not mean your eyes are better protected – look for glasses that are labelled as protecting from 100% of UV rays.
- Keep delicate skin covered-up as much as possible. Light, longsleeved tops or UV protective clothing. Don’t forget to pack a hat for everyone!
- Sunscreen is essential for protecting from harmful UV rays. Don’t forget to apply it even when playing in the garden or walking to the park.
- Remember to reapply sunscreen after going in the water.
Out & About
- Ensure your child always wears appropriate safety equipment when bike riding, skateboarding or other similar activities.
- Take the time to go over road safety with your child, reminding them of correct crossing procedures and going on a few practice runs with them..
- In case of an emergency or if you have been separated, agree on a secret safety word with your child. Let your child know that if someone says a parent has sent them, that person will have the secret safety word.
- Staying hydrated is an often overlooked safety issue. Children need between four and 8 cups of water a day, depending on their age, and more on a hot day. Pack a water bottle wherever you go.
- Take a photo of your child on your phone before you leave the house. If you should become separated you will have an up to date photo with the clothes they are wearing available.
- Write your phone number inside your child’s sneakers and teach them to show someone if they are lost. Then it will be easy for a responsible adult to contact you straight away.
Another huge challenge can be staying organized – especially when you have a number of children to juggle over summer vacation. Activities, camps, play-dates, and even staying at home all day can stretch your organizational muscles.
- Use a chore chart to allocate chores for each of your kids. If you haven’t found an effective chore chart, try Zone Cleaning for Kids.
- Help your children tidy all the belongings that have migrated around the house by using “tidy-up baskets.” They can move from room to room, filling the baskets with items that don’t belong and putting them away when they get to the correct room.
- Combine the tidy baskets with a specific pre-dinner tidy time, this ensures everything can be tidied away by the end of the day.
- Keep a calendar in a place everyone can see it. Ours is hung on the kitchen wall and we use different color pens for each person. Whenever something is planned, it goes straight on the calendar and, to cut down on the stress, no more than three plans are allowed on each day.
- Produce a daily visual schedule, so everyone can see, at a glance, what is happening and when.
- Plan ahead with snacks and lunches portioned out in paper bags, in plastic boxes or just bundled together in the cupboard. Being able to just add a fresh sandwich & fruit really speeds up lunch making.
- Fill water bottles each evening and leave them in the fridge overnight.
- Put clothes away with the items for a complete outfit together and lay them out the night before. No more rushing around in the morning looking for matching socks!
With less structured summer months, learning can slow down. A few active steps during summer will ensure things fall into place come September.
- Encourage your children to document their experiences through the summer. They can keep a journal, make a lapbook, build a website or create art pieces based on their day.
- Use a day-out or longer trip as the basis for learning, both before and after you go. For example if you are going to the beach use the days before to imagine what you might see, learn about how sand is formed or rock pool ecology. When you are home again, look-up the creatures you have seen, draw a map of where you went or write a story about your adventure.
- Use workbooks or worksheets as a quiet time activity.
- Search online for free events in your community.
- Visit your local library. They often have summer reading programs and activities.
- Learn an instrument – you could even form a family band!
- Have a staycation and dedicate a week at home to a particular country. Watch a program about the culture, cook the food, learn a few words of the language – celebrate a summer holiday at home.
- Use family trips as an opportunity to research your family tree and use those discoveries as a jumping off point for learning.
No matter what you have planned for the summer, remember to stay safe, stay organized and stay sharp!
Which of these activities will you be adding to your summer vacation?
About the All-Star Blogger
Patti Barnes is a homeschool mom to five children, a bad crafter, an avid reader, a hopeless optimist and a blogger at RedHeaded Patti One of her sons lives with cerebral palsy and two live with autism – this ensures the family calendar is always packed with exciting appointments.
In her copious amounts of spare time she likes to drink tea and worry about all of the other things she should really be doing, all the ways in which she feels she’s failing as a mom and all of the mess that’s being created while she’s not looking!
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