Summer is coming – can you feel it? Okay, maybe not yet. But, pretty soon, those piles of glistening snow will melt and you’ll be staring big-eyed at a summer calendar with weeks and weeks of absolutely NOTHING.
It’s ok. Deep breaths. No need to panic. PREPARATION is the name of the game!
With many fun, educational activities out there – ripe for the taking – it’ll take very little effort to make some plans that’ll make this summer the best one yet (while secretly enriching your child’s education with learning activities!).
When looking for types of activities, consider areas that your child loves at school and wants to spend more time learning about or areas where they need more practice than the typical school day can provide.
As a former teacher, I am the first to admit that public education moves fast and serves many. This leaves a lot of room for enrichment outside of school hours.
Summer is the best opportunity to give your kids the chance to really do a deep dive into areas they are passionate about, discover new favorites, or bolster skills that are lagging.
Let’s find out how you can find the best summer activities for your kids!
1. Check Your Local Community Center/Rec Guide!
You would be surprised how many classes are probably offered at your nearby community or recreation center – and for very affordable prices!
Lots of businesses take this opportunity to draw in new clients – so they drop rates on certain classes and promote through the community center. Over the years, I’ve taken everything from ice-skating to ballroom dance classes through local community centers.
With indoor, outdoor, pool, dance, and usually swim class options – you should easily fill that summer blank slate with great learning activities.
Plus, many rec centers offer weeklong camps with different topics of focus – so your little scholar can stay, play, and make friends, and you’ll enjoy having some structure to your day.
2. Check Your Local Library!
Our libraries are such a cherished resource! When I had my son, I checked our local library calendar and found so many fun and FREE baby and toddler classes and activities.
When I took him to some paid classes by popular companies to compare, I was surprised to see that the free library class was very similar! Plus, the people you meet usually live nearby, so you can start to make friends for you and your kids.
It’s not just for babies – the older they get, the more fun they can have, with options that may include any of the following – and even more:
- Family Movie Nights
- Lego club
- Holiday art activities
- Reading to younger kids
- Book clubs
Oh, and don’t forget, you don’t have to stick to the library closest to home. Look at other libraries driving distance as well. A library a bit further away from us actually has a petting zoo and an active train that my kids LOVE! Well worth a little bit longer in the car.
3. Check Out Nextdoor.com!
Don’t forget to jump on your community page on Nextdoor. Other parents will post upcoming activities, new sports clubs, and even offers for playdates. Nextdoor is a great way to connect with your local neighborhood.
In fact, it was on our Nextdoor page that I found out about the karate studio my son went to – and loved – and also found dance classes for my toddler.
4. Check Your Local Bookstore!
Our local bookstores are closing their shutters fast. It’s hard to stay open in today’s online retail environment.
But, local bookstores are so important! Not only are they a rich resource for books and often offer quiet reading areas and independent author showcases – but they also host fun, FREE activities!
For example, our local bookstore has all types of free classes, from toddler storytime – where they sing songs, read books, and 12 visits gets them a free book of their choice – to book clubs for all ages.
My kids love these classes and I love these classes. Bookstores are a wonderful way to enrich your child’s social and academic skills.
5. Check Out Local Events!
Every area has something they are known for – so find it! Is your city the home of the best pumpkin patch? An awesome train museum? An outdoor splash pad for kids?
Don’t forget to look for the calendars of your local shopping areas, where you’ll often find regular events the whole family will enjoy. Our nearby downtown has free events for all the holidays, outdoor movies and concerts in the summer, and other regular events. Our nearest shopping plaza one town over has yoga in the park, holiday activities, and even hosts a Cars and Coffee event on weekends where local car owners park their prized rolling possessions while the neighborhood strolls, sips, and enjoys luxury cars we could never afford.
Anything that can expose your child to new experiences and opportunities to learn can offer a welcomed break from the normal schedule or summer doldrums
6. Check Out a Local Art Museum!
Every area has one. Or, a nearby town will. While the one where we live now is much smaller than the huge Children’s Discovery Museum in the Bay Area, it’s still fun for the kids and they love enjoying activities I don’t set up for them at home – such as painting on windows, water play areas, a stage with costumes, and a gigantic train table.
While these types of events do cost money – many of them offer coupons, Groupons, and half-off days where you can save some money.
Scheduling these visits can be a bit of an art form if you don’t want to get bombarded with a million other visitors. You can always call the museum and ask what their slow days and times are and they are happy to tell you! Or, ask which days they have school field trips or camps coming – so you know which days to avoid!
Art museums offer such a fun, learning environment for kids – and give moms a break from having to do the cleanup!
7. Check Out Kid Subscription Boxes!
Photo by Erica Jabali
Subscription boxes are one of those easy, affordable activities that kids and moms can enjoy together – at home – with zero prep.
We really love KiwiCrate for arts and crafts, because the box shows up each month with a curated box of approximately 3 activities. Everything you need to do them is included and it comes with a little book that tells a story about the topic.
My son looks forward to his box all month and I love having something prepped and ready to go.
Other fun options are the Green Kids Crafts box, Raddish kids cooking box, Little Passports travel based box, and more. You can even go to CrateJoy and search by age or interest to find a subscription box best suited to your child’s age and preferences. #WINNING
8. Check Out Local Camps!
Camps are such a win for everybody! Oftentimes they will offer kids a learning experience they just can’t replicate anywhere else – and moms will get a whole week of planned activities they can count on while they catch up on other things.
Camp offerings will be different based on your area, but they are pretty easy to find – because they want you to find them and enroll!
Find them by simply googling, “Summer camps in [enter your city]”. Be sure to search the largest nearby city, too, if you’re in a smaller town.
There are also larger camp companies with lots of locations, too, that you can search for options near you. Here is a very short list of some of the better-known camp organizations:
- Monarch Camps
- Galileo Science Camps
- iD Tech Camps – kids 7-19 – coding, robotics, designing, game developing
Also, search for local kid camps at your junior college! For years, I taught a specialized writing course for the De Anza Summer Enrichment Program – hosted in concert by De Anza College and the local school districts. We offered so many fun classes, from coding to fashion design, creative writing to basketball.
It was an amazing program and some of my best memories teaching.
MOM TIP: Something I learned while teaching summers was that kids really loved it when they had some choice in their classes. So, even if you feel they need an extra math class or writing class, allow them to pick one or two camps purely on what they would like to learn. It’s amazing how much more energy they will put into the subjects they don’t like as much when they have a love for learning!
9. Check Out Local Publications For Class Ideas!
We are lucky to have the internet to connect us with everyone who knows everything!
There are several great online blogs and newsletters solely devoted to sharing activities, camps, classes, and more, for you to do with your kids!
Go to any of these and look for your city to find recommendations near you:
10. Check Out What Other Kids Are Doing!
Your schoolteacher, other moms, and your nextdoor neighbors are often your best bets for learning about cool new finds in your area!
I’ll never forget when I was sitting in our neighborhood pool and making sure my kids didn’t drown, when another mom started sharing about the local soccer club she enrolled her kids in. She was raving about the teaching method, the game style, and even the location of the beautiful field.
Guess what I did when I got home? I went home and enrolled my kid!
So, start asking around – what are your kid’s friends doing this summer? What camps, sports leagues, classes, and other activities are they doing?
Also, your teacher will probably start getting a lot of fliers on upcoming camps and local activities soon. Let them know you are interested in whatever ideas they have or information they can provide and I bet you they start sending home some info.
Word travels fast – so with very little effort you should be sitting pretty on a nice big stack of fun, educational, memorable activities to do with your kids – this summer, this weekend, or whenever!
Finding ways to enrich your child’s education can seem overwhelming at first. But, with a little bit of conversation and elbow grease, you should have more ideas than you know what to do with.
Start with these 10 and see where things go. I bet you’ll come back here soon and have even more ideas of your own to share.
After all, sharing is caring!
Thanks for reading. I love sharing all my best tips and tricks with my readers on my blog, I Spy Fabulous. Come check it out and say hi!
Erica is a freelance writer, blogger, and self-professed know-it-all who drops knowledge on everything from baby gear to beauty products on her blog, I Spy Fabulous. She’s highly-caffeinated, talks like an auctioneer, and has a strange phobia of aquariums. When she’s not writing, she can be found drinking coffee and having a living room dance party with her two kids and husband.