Print this page Planning Your Child’s Summer

Whether your child’s summer is centered around summer camps and activities, or you have the luxury of an old-fashioned, unscheduled summer, child development experts suggest that you include plenty of time for free play on the calendar.

Many schools have become focused on mastering functional skills like literacy and mathematical reasoning, which reduces the time available for the development of the social and emotional skills. Parents are often surprised to learn that play is so important for their kids, especially since schools today place so much importance on academics. Yet research shows that healthy play is central to developing problem solving skills, compassion, the ability to stay on task, and many other life skills.

Summer offers many opportunities to let children explore the world through play. Whether the child spends most days in camp or in child care or at home with a parent or caregiver, take a look at the portion of the day available for unstructured activity that gets filled at the discretion of the child. This is not about TV or computer time. Ideally, kids will get a ‘balanced diet’ of several types of play, including active physical play, arts and crafts activities, play with siblings and friends, family-centered fun, reading, outdoor time, and more.

Here are some tips for making summer more playful:

  • Lighten up on scheduled activities. Taking something off the calendar frees up time for child-directed play, and can make your day as a parent easier and more fun, too.
  • Respect and protect your child’s playtime as much as you do their other activities.
  • Limit television and computer time. Plan ahead with your child the times he is allowed screen time, and stick to your plan.
  • Visit your local children’s museum, which is designed for play suitable for many different ages.
  • Stop by your local neighborhood toy store. The people there know a lot about kids and play, and the store often features special play times and activities for free.
  • Your local public library or bookstore is likely to have reading clubs and story times for children of many different ages. Check out what they have to offer.
  • Make the great outdoors your family’s favorite playground! No matter where you live and how much time you have to play, there is always something new to see or do if you use your imagination.

Provided By Susan J. Oliver, Tropomedia
This information is provided on behalf of the toy experts at your
neighborhood toy store.