With school almost over for another year, children risk losing academic skills and knowledge over the summer months. When planning summer activities, consider what you want your children to get out of their summer. Although loss in learning varies across grade level, subject and family income, look for activities that further kids’ physical, intellectual, social, spiritual, cultural and artistic development.
In this article, we suggest summer activities that help further children’s greater understanding of themselves and the world in which they live.
Focus on the now
Tempting as it might be when planning summer activities, avoid focusing too much on your children’s futures. You may think that sending kids to an internship or camp will help better prepare them for a career, but you may be setting unreasonable expectations for your children and actually turning them off academics. Kids often view such activities as parents’ attempts to fast-forward their development. As such, they’ll find such experiences unenjoyable, if not altogether boring.
Ignite their passion
Focus instead on activities that encourage kids to enjoy themselves. If your children are sports-minded, creative or fascinated by science, look for activity-specific camps or other experiences that fuel their passions.
Children with a love of performing may enjoy the St. Albert Children’s Theatre Summer Drama Camps, designed so that all participants enjoy a complete theatrical experience in a positive environment. Alternatively, you may also want to look into the Foote Theatre School, Edmonton’s oldest and largest theatre school. With classes for all ages and experience levels, students can learn physical, technical, and creative skills in both acting and musical theatre.
Children interested in science and technology may benefit from DiscoverE’s engaging summer camps, where they’ll learn concepts through exciting hands-on projects and demonstrations. TELUS World of Science Edmonton also delivers a series of summer science camps, with activities ranging from experiencing biology using microscopes and developing stop-motion animation to learning what it takes to be an astronaut.
Don’t minimize family values’ worth
With weekend barbecues, Canada Day celebrations, midways and festivals on the horizon, don’t miss out on opportunities to come together and build a family legacy.
Combine a family cookout with campout. You can camp without leaving the comfort of your backyard or, if you want to camp without leaving the greater Edmonton area, consider the Rainbow Valley Campground. With many amenities and easy access to a walking trail network, the Rainbow Valley Campground is the only camping facility nestled in the City of Edmonton.
If you think movies theatres are too expensive and drive-ins are a thing of the past, think again. Thanks to Cineplex, you can enjoy family movies all summer long—for a mere $2.99! In Edmonton, free movies in Sir Winston Churchill Square are a family tradition. Bring lawn chairs or a blanket, and watch on a giant three-storey inflatable screen. You can also see outdoor movies in a number of locations throughout the greater Edmonton area
Visit a local farm such as Prairie Gardens & Adventure Farm, a petting zoo, or a u-pick berry patch or orchard. Try geo-caching or an outdoor scavenger hunt. Bring your “I Spy” list and camera with you, and challenge family members to spot the places or objects on your list.
Read a book aloud with your family or consider intergenerational storytelling. Have your children ask questions of their aunts, uncles or grandparents. Activities such as these help kids develop a sense of where they belong in the family as a whole, and they also begin the process of handing down stories from one generation to the next. Capture moments and create a scrapbook or video.
Not only are your children part of a family, but they are also members of a larger community. Seek out opportunities to give back—whether through helping a local shelter, church, community group or non-profit organization. Community service instills such values as empathy, compassion and social responsibility.
When selecting summer activities for your family, resist the temptation to fast-track your children’s intellectual and educational development. Buck popular culture, peer pressure and trends. Think deliberately about the values you want to instill in your children. Consider their passions and interests. You can then make informed choices based on these priorities.
We at Lift Legal hope you all enjoy a safe, fun and enriching summer!