By Melissa Uhles
As a part time work from home mama of a fourth grader, May is when I start making summer plans. School days allow me lots of time to do my writing work. Then June comes along! Summer activities for school-aged kids can be harder to come across than activities for little kids. Around age 10, it starts to feel like tweens are caught in the in between. Even parks in the summer are filled with the under 5 crowd. So what’s a mom to do?
I did some research online and came up with a few ideas of things I’ve tried or plan to try this summer. Hopefully this will help you as you head into the long hot school-free months.
Start a book club
Libraries have summer reading programs which can be a good incentive to get your kids reading. You could get them together with a friend or two once a month to discuss a book they are reading or see if they want to read the same one.
Can’t make that happen? Get siblings on board. Or you coud do what I’m doing with my nine year old this summer. He wants me to read the same Diary of a Wimpy Kid book with him at the same time so we can discuss it as we go along. He said he wanted us to have something in common that we could talk about.
The libraries also have some free activities in the summer. We are planning to check out the Lego monthly meetup and they have some STEM activities too.
Write a book together
The book club idea hatched another scheme in my mind. I pitched the idea that the two of us could try to write a middle grade book together. I don’t know if he’ll go for it. But if your kid loves to write, it might be worth a shot.
Sign up for summer camps and classes
You may want to sign your school aged kids up for a summer class or camp. It’s important to know that prices vary and the good ones can book up fast.
There seems to be something for almost every interest. Art, bowling, gymnastics, Lego robots and coding camp are some of the offerings where we live.
If money is what’s stopping you, there are some that offer early bird discounts and one program here offers a limited number or scholarships.
Teach your kids something
We are kicking off the summer by inviting my son’s friends over for a drama day. I studied theatre in college and have worked at a nonprofit helping teens put on their own theatre productions. I thought the kids might enjoy a day of learning something new and hanging out.
My husband plans to teach my son Python, the programming language on weekends this summer. As an engineer, this is really in his wheelhouse and I think they’ll both have fun.
What can you teach a group of neighborhood kiddos? Maybe have them over for a pizza or popsickle making day. Teach them to knit or weave, we’ve been learning that too.
If you are a writer like me, you could teach a writing workshop with the kiddos. They could learn to write a haiku or a short story.
Go to open swim at the pool
We have had years of formal swimming lessons. This year, we are just going to open swim so my kiddo can swim and have fun without the formal structure of lessons.
Sometimes I get in the pool with him and try to swim a few laps before all the other kids pile in and jam pool noodles into my face. What can I say? I like to live dangerously!
Got an older kid? A mom friend of mine has a teen who is a terrific swimmer and he is going to apply to be a lifeguard this summer.
Have a garage sale with a lemonade stand
This is something we’ve done in the past. The garage sale is a lot of work and kids get more into it if they can make a little money selling something.
Bottled water on a hot day works as well as cupcakes, one of my mom friends had her kid do that and he really raked it in.
It’s never too early to teach your kids about how to make money with a side gig. And maybe you can talk them into selling all those toddler toys and books that are collecting dust their rooms.
Over the years I have taken my son with me to a nonprofit here that helps kids and parents in low income situations get clothes, books and toys. It’s an easy sorting job but he really enjoyed it.
The food bank sometimes needs people to sort food items and the one where we live will allow school-aged kids to help as long as a parent accompanies them.
Another friend of mine has her kids volunteering at the public library with her.
If you’ve got a young teenager there are opportunites with parks and rec and camps that take on teens to volunteer to help the teachers with the little kids.
Take day trips
In Oregon there are so many day trips we can take. Every year I get ambitious and make a list. This year there are a few that I want to plan ahead of time. We will check out Sunriver and Crater Lake for the first time.
Enchanted Forest is also an amusement park that is an hour away that I plan to check out before my son outgrows the place.
Make your kids work
Is your kiddo 12 or 13? They might be able to mow lawns or babysit for someone in the neighborhood.
In our state it is legal to work under the age of sixteen if you are doing these types of domestic gigs.
Try Sunday School
This isn’t for everyone. We have not been regular church goes. But I recently found one that I like and since I’ve got an only child, I’m thinking of having him try out the youth group as a way of connecting with other kids over the summer.
You and your kid should also make sure to get some lazy days in. If you are a working parent this will be much harder. Weekends can fill up fast. Planning ahead to have a few weekends with zero plans might be a good course of action.
What are your plans? Tell us in the comments!
P.S. Make some time for yourself to write this summer. Our book Write Compelling Content is full of writing exercises that will help elevate your prose!
Melissa is a freelance writer, author and blogger. She specializes in finance, food, health, parenting, and real estate. She enjoys helping fellow writers and parents from her writing nook in Portland, Oregon.