Summer break is coming up, and with it a feeling of optimism and adventure. But for others, the end of the school year leaves us wondering what on earth we’re going to do for the next 3 months. Fear not, because we’ve got you covered with 21 awesome ways to get the most out of your summer break!
Check out the list below to find out why summer break is important, what you can learn, and how to truly make the most of your time off.
#1 – Explore Your Hometown
You may be familiar with your neighborhood, but taking time to be a tourist in your own city can open your eyes to cool things you haven’t seen before. After all, there’s a reason these spots are so popular. Whether you’re checking out a local hiking trail, visiting a museum, or trying a new restaurant, summer break is the best time to go exploring in your own backyard.
#2 – Plant a Garden
The school year once revolved around the planting and harvesting seasons, but children today often lack the skills and knowledge to grow food and flowers. Planting a garden during summer break is a fun way to get outside while learning new and important life skills. Kids will be delighted to see (and eat!) the fruits of their labor.
#3 – Go Camping
Camping is a fun and affordable way to connect with nature and unplug from the high-tech world in which we live. Additionally, camping is a great opportunity for experiential education.
Many campgrounds are very modern, with shower and toilet facilities and a general store, so don’t worry if you’re new to camping. Use this opportunity to learn how to build a fire, pitch a tent, and learn environmental principles like Leave No Trace.
#4 – Check Out an Outdoor Concert or Sporting Event
Baseball is America’s pastime, but there are plenty of other options for cultural involvement. Expose your group to new social and cultural experiences while enjoying live entertainment. This summer, support local teams and artists by joining your community on a fun outing.
#5 – Learn a New Language
According to a Gallup poll, only 26% of Americans can hold a conversation in another language, compared to over 50% globally. Learning a new language can be stimulating for people of any age and allows us to broaden our experiences with other people and cultures. There are many programs available that can have you speaking a new language by the end of summer break.
#6 – Travel Over Summer Break
This can be especially fun if you’re trying to master another language. Mark Twain wrote that “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” Exploring new parts of the world, meeting new people, and experiencing different cultures gives us a broader perspective. People who travel also tend to be happier, and will come back with greater experience and social capital.
#7 – Send the Kids to Camp
This could be anything from a day camp to a multi-week sleep away camp. Camps are great opportunities for kids to learn new skills, meet new people, and cultivate independence. Wish there were camps for adults? You’re in luck. There are plenty of adult camps available for almost any interest.
#8 – Go Hiking
Outdoor education is important. Whether you live in an urban area or somewhere more rural, chances are there’s a trail not too far away. Hiking is great for physical exercise, natural sunlight, and getting away from technology. If you’re not sure where to go, check out The Outbound Collective, which is a great resource for finding local and exotic adventures, complete with tips from fellow hikers. Don’t forget to pack the 10 essentials!
#9 – Have a Garage Sale
Clearing out the clutter can seem like an endless job. You can make it fun and meet your neighbors by having a garage sale. This is a great way to teach kids about the value of their possessions and the fundamentals of commerce. When the sale is over, use the earnings to treat yourselves to a fun outing or meal!
#10 – Sign Up for a Rec League
Summer is sporting season, and there’s no better time to learn a new sport through a local rec league. Leagues promote physical exercise, comradery, sportsmanship, and teamwork. Make games a family event by cheering each other on and finding fun ways to celebrate after a win!
#11 – Volunteer
Many of us can take for granted the wealth and luxury in our lives. A great way to gain perspective and give back is by being of service to your community. It’s important to teach kids early about service, and summer break is the perfect opportunity. You can promote a culture of service while receiving the many benefits of volunteering.
#12 – Throw a Dinner Party (& Cook!)
Throwing a dinner party is a great way to spend time with friends and family and offers vast opportunities for learning and social development. Whether you throw a backyard barbeque or something more formal, get the kids involved by having them help cook, write invitations, and plan activities.
Cooking is an especially important skill to teach early. If you’ve planted a garden, this can be a chance to show off your green thumb by using the food you’ve grown in the meal!
#13 – Throw a Block Party
Another great way to build community and develop planning and organizational skills is to throw a block party. Start by recruiting some volunteers, then pick a date and apply for a permit. Get the whole group involved in organizing food, games, and other events. And HAVE FUN!
#14 – Write a Pen Pal
In today’s digital age, the excitement of receiving a handwritten letter (much less the skill to write one) has been all but lost. Getting set up with a pen pal can teach communication skills and help kids learn about other cultures. To step it up a notch, consider sponsoring a child in need. This can be extremely rewarding, and many organizations will help translate letters between you and your sponsor child.
#15 – Ask the Grandparents What They Did for Fun
For most children, technology has been a given. Unlike many adults who were raised without the internet or mobile devices, kids today have been plugged in since childhood. Strengthen the relationship with older family members by asking them what they did for fun as kids. Try out some of the activities and invite the older folks to join!
#16 – Join a Community Pool
Summer is pool season, and learning to swim is as fun as it is important. Check out community pools in your area and consider signing up for a Red Cross swimming program taught by certified water safety instructors. There’s no better way to beat the heat than jumping into the pool, and the exercise will leave your whole family feeling healthier and sleeping better.
#17 – Trade in the Gadgets for Some Legos
Carve out time this summer to have “tech-free” days. A great way to engage the kids instead is by setting them up with some Legos. These bricks can provide hours of entertainment and promote motor skills and creativity.
While the kits can be fun and challenging, be sure to encourage original creations as well. Remember that nothing they build is wrong, so encourage them to build without fear of failure.
#18 – Learn to Play an Instrument
While summer break provides a hiatus from non-stop learning and studying, it’s important to continue to challenge developing minds. With school and homework out of the way, a new instrument can be a fun challenge that isn’t overwhelming. Plus, playing music can help your brain more than any other activity. Consider setting up a home concert to show off their new skills!
#19 – Dress Up and Role-Play
Especially for younger children, imagination can be the best way to stimulate and engage the mind. For a fun day, transport the kids into a world of pirates, cowboys, or castles. You can wear costumes, talk with accents, and build forts. You can even tie in your theme with a book or trip, recreating the world they’ve been discovering. This is an inexpensive way to have fun, and one which your kids will remember for years to come.
#20 – Start a Book Club
School is out, but that shouldn’t mean that learning comes to a halt. Encouraging recreational reading is important for learning and comprehension skills, and provides an endless source of information and entertainment. Improve comprehension, communication, and fun by starting a book club with friends to discuss what you’re reading.
Make it even more fun by joining a summer reading rewards program, like the BOOK IT! program or your library’s summer reading challenge.
#21 – Do Things Together
Most importantly, spend time together. Summer break is a time for kids to explore, learn, and grow. Seize every opportunity to visit with friends and family, explore new places, and try new things. Be it a summer trip abroad, a game with the neighbors, or cooking a meal together, summer break is the time to build strong and lasting relationships.