How to keep children busy during the summer vacation

As a family, determine areas you feel are important to develop in each family member, such as reading, service, recreation, cultural arts, etc. You may need to guide them toward appropriate subjects, but for the most part let the children discover areas they feel would be worthwhile.

Next, brainstorm activities that would bring about growth and experience in these areas. Make the activities fun, creative and something to look forward to. You could give an example to get the creativity flowing in your children. When children plan family activities, they will be excited to participate.Organize your time to accomplish these activities. Use a family calendar to write in planned activities.

Our family uses mornings for reading, journal or letter writing, and music practice, then each child has a household job or jobs to complete. Sometimes we work together to accomplish a large task.

Other ideas for summer and any time are the following:

Use list of school activities. Do these activities with your child. Have fun!

Check out the library for books. Look for books on kid crafts, cooking with children, etc.

Learn something new together. For example, learn how to make a certain food or learn about an animal that lives in the area.

Have fun and explore. For example, put some flour in a cookie sheet and play with your young child in it with small cars, measuring spoons, etc. Be spontaneous and fun.

Get a group of mothers together. Each of you take a turn teaching your children about a subject you may be interested in or knowledgeable about. - Lorna Lee R. Anderson, Soda Springs, Idaho

What we did:

Weekend trips

During the last week of school, I always asked art and elementary school teachers at our school to put scraps and unwanted materials into a box that I could pick up when school closed for the summer.

I found that family home evening wasn't enough time to teach my children all that I wanted to and we began having an hourly "family home school" each day when they were younger. After we were done with gospel-centered stories, art projects or games, we'd spend two hours cleaning house and doing laundry.

Since our family budget never included summer vacations, we'd plan weekend trips; most had a gospel connection. The children looked forward to traveling to upstate New York to camp near and visit the Palmyra Pageant, the Sacred Grove and other landmarks of early Church history. We camped near beautiful Sharon, Vt., and visited the Joseph Smith Memorial. Occasionally, we traveled as a family to Washington, D.C., and visited the temple grounds and visitors center while my husband and I took turns inside the temple. - Cindi Benedict, Niantic, Conn.

Exploring parks

We purchase some workbooks, such as writing, math, spelling - whatever our children might need extra help with. Every morning on weekdays the kids work in their workbooks for 15-30 minutes. For every book they finish, we take them out for ice cream.

I try to save extra money during the year. I then use this money during the summer to take the kids to the museum, the movies, etc.

We also like to do what we call "exploring parks." We pack a picnic lunch and drive to a park we have never been to before. We eat our lunch and the kids play on the play equipment.

In addition, some factories have free tours to take and then, of course, there is always the library. We borrow some books, and I read aloud to the kids, no matter what their ages are. Some libraries also have free programs for kids to enjoy. - Helle Watson, Thornton, Colo.

Peace, harmony

Initially, I found school holidays were to be dreaded. As fast as I cleaned the house, the children messed it up. I was cross, and they were unhappy.

We made an agreement. Several days a week each child, according to age, would be assigned a task in the morning. Between us, we would clean and tidy the house and fix a packed lunch. Then we would go out, mainly on foot, but sometimes by bus or train or ferry. We would go to parks, museums, anywhere interesting, returning for the evening meal refreshed, happy and far too tired to mess up the house. The English weather is unpredictable - we didn't let that affect us. We had fun, and Dad returned from work to peace and harmony. - Marion Kitsell, Bishops Cleeve, England

Reading aloud

I spent hours during summer vacations with my four children sitting around the dining room table or flopped in the family room as I read aloud to them -not just when they were little, but when they were early elementary through middle-school age. We read children's scriptures, Church books, novels and lots of classics. We all have fond memories of giggling through Tom Sawyer and crying through Where the Red Fern Grows. - Ruth Baker, Fort Myers, Fla.

Unlimited creativity

Don't look at television as a baby-sitter. This is a habit that is hard to break. Whenever your children are looking for something to do, have an arts and crafts box ready for them to color, cut, paste and create. Children have unlimited creativity when they are encouraged to use it often. Help them be involved with hobbies such as woodworking, painting, models, sports, collections, etc. This will give them something fun to anticipate doing. - Rosalie Davis, Farmington, Utah

Homemaking projects

Summer vacation time is an ideal time to emphasize the skills and projects that help to "make a home." Our children have spent part of each summer learning to cook, planning menus, shopping wisely, sewing, planning gardens, and harvesting and preserving the fruits of their labors. When they were young, they learned through informal teaching as they stood on a chair beside me and helped me cook.

Other basic activities that have been springboards for family fun have been cutting, piecing and tying picnic quilts from old jeans; and building and painting a "carrot house" to cover the 55-gallon barrel we sank in the ground to store our carrots through the winter. - Karen C. Luthy, Gaithersburg, Md.

Plan ahead

Plan ahead for activities and events/outings. Remember, it's easier to do any investigative phone/

footwork while the children are still at school.

Check out your local library, sports center, zoo, parks, museum, theaters, galleries. These places may have special interest group- and event-organizer contacts or summer activity schedules. Many of these activities could be free.

Check also local schools and colleges. Tourist information centers are also great resource points. - Linda E. Gray, Cumbria, England

How to checklist

Plan ahead; use calendar to schedule activities, events.

Spend time as family; do chores together; visit museums, other attractions.

Use local library; have regular reading time with children.

Encourage creativity, learn new skills; do craft, art projects; direct, don't dominate.

Write to us:

June 8 "How to cope when your child has had a permanently disabling accident or illness."

June 15 "How to help your spouse adjust to retirement."

June 22 "How to teach children respect for the Sabbath day."

June 29 "How to adjust to life-altering changes."

July 6 "How to develop meaningful family traditions."

July 13 "How to help children cope with the death of a loved one."

Had any good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110, send fax to (801) 237-2121 or use internet E-mail: Please include a name and phone number. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Due to limited space, some contributions may not be used; those used should not be regarded as official Church doctrine or policy. Material must be received at least 12 days before publication date.

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