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Keeping Kids Engaged in Summer

Monday, May 14, 2018 8:53 AM

Sometimes being a parent in summertime is tough. Coming up with new ways to engage your children while being mindful of screen time, weather and the cost of summer camp can be challenging. Shilpa Shankar, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, shares some unique ways to keep kids moving and grooving and actively engaged this summer. These ideas are great to do with each kid individually or as a family!


Dr. Shankar recommends:

  • Host Your Own Olympics. In your backyard, create teams and events to play against each other. Special events might include the basketball game HORSE, fastest to run to the end of the block and back, and more! Some neighborhoods and families are open to hosting larger group scavenger hunts, obstacle courses, or block field days (indoor or outdoor). Reach out to your neighbors to coordinate fun days for your kids and their friends!
  • Play Hide and Seek. If it’s too hot or raining outside, play hide and seek in the house. If you give kids a little extra time, it challenges them to get creative with hiding spots and keeps them off the couch.
  • Check Out Indoor Playgrounds. After the kids are done climbing, make sure to wash their hands and face to prevent the spreading of germs.
  • Indoor Bowling. Collect empty water bottles as the pins and wad up a sock as the bowling ball. Take turns and keep score. In addition to keeping the tablets away, this will help kids with simple math!
  • Bike the Garden. Learn about nature while moving through a beautiful area. Make an outing of it as it’s great for the whole family!
  • Beach Day. We are lucky to have the lake so close by! Just remember sun and swim safety when we are outside building sandcastles and splashing in the water. Also check out the local pools and splash pads as well.
  • Backyard Field Day. Turn on the sprinklers, bring out the chalk and sponges to play water games like toss the sponge at the bullseye and Duck, Duck, Splash.
  • Local Nature Centers and Zoo. Go on a hike, picnic in the park, learn about different plants and animals, and pick up leaves to use for an arts and crafts activity later in the week.
  • Library Summer Reading Program. Go to your local library to enroll in the summer reading program. Kids can get stickers and prizes for completing fun reading!
  • Local Park District Summer Programs. This can be a great option outside of the traditional camp experience that provides a variety of daytime supervised activity.

Remember that kids need downtime after a busy school year to rest and just be kids! Scheduling free time to be bored and develop creative, free play is just as important as planning activities for your kids.

Set some summer guidelines that work for your family at home ahead of the upcoming break to establish house ground rules like no screen time until a certain time in the day. That way your kids know what to expect when school gets out.

Brainstorm and put up an activities list that sounds like fun for your family on your kitchen fridge that everyone can look at for inspiration for things to do. Not every day will have new and fun activities, and that’s okay. What is important is to make sure that kids are engaged both physically and mentally at least half the day.