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It isn't easy keeping kids busy

By Staff
Michelle Blaylock, Mom's Corner
OK, I have to ask if you are singing the "Hallelujah Chorus" or "My Soul In Sad Exile"? Yep, it's that time of year–summer vacation. Truthfully, I used to be one of the ones singing the second song. I dreaded vacation simply because it seemed like more work, more whining and, with my kids, more time for disasters.
One summer I decided I had to come up with a better plan. What spurred this, you ask? Well, it was the summer I looked out my back window in Kentucky and saw my kids with the one of the neighbor's kids playing "Oregon Trail." They had hitched the neighbors trailer to our lawn mower and then loaded the trailer with things like the play kitchen, a pop-up tent, food, blankets, stuffed animals, and just about anything else they could think of. Next they had added the younger children and were going around our rather hilly yard pretending it was the Oregon Trail. OK, it was rather creative. Unfortunately, it was also a bit dangerous.
I had to come up with a safer, much safer, plan. First thing I did was change my mindset. I decided I would look at summer vacation as an opportunity to spend time with my kids, teach them things I enjoyed, and give them creative and safe outlets.
I sat down with a calendar and decided to plan some treat days. They were inexpensive things like a play date, going to the library, having a small sleepover, having a game day or craft day.
I also planned one or two big things (well, what we consider big things). I planned a trip to a water park and to a children's museum. I also decided that year to buy a family swimming pool pass. We loved it! Of course, our family (with the exception of one) loves the water.
I knew I needed to try and include some academic skills over the summer. Research shows that some kids will drop as much as a grade level over the summer. I knew there was no way on the face of this earth I would get my kids to do one worksheet or open one text book. I had to be a little more creative.
I began to look for ways to include academic skills in our daily life. It's amazing how simple it really was.
For example, let's look at just cooking a meal. I was able to include writing (who wanted what to drink), following directions (both in setting the table and following a recipe), math (remember the recipe–gotta measure), science (why did that bread rise?), reading (there's that recipe again).
Another great place to include academic skills is the (cringe) grocery store. First of all, take time to plan a menu with your kids; then have them make a list (with supervision of course) of what they need to buy and how much.
It's also fun to have them guess how much things will cost. We have to work within a budget so if we come up over, then they have to decide what they are going to do without.
So in the process of going to the store you have incorporated reading, writing, math, nutrition, money skills, life skills (budgeting), forethought, and planning. If you used a calendar in your planning process, then you also included those skills.
Of course, there are many other things to do in the summer like gardening, Vacation Bible School, and camps to mention a few. And remember, if all else fails repeat after me, "Children are a gift from God. Children are a gift from God. Children are a gift from God."
If you have a suggestion, tip, or question, please send it to: Mom's Corner; P.O. Box 1496; Hartselle, AL 35640; or