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Summer Reading

94 Days of Summer: 5 Things to Do Before Summer Break Begins

There are 94 days of summer break this year.  That breaks down to: 8,121,600 seconds, 135,360 minutes, 2,256 hours.  How do you and your family plan to spend that time?

It’s amazing how quickly the school year flies by, isn’t it?  Although summer doesn’t officially begin until June 21st, many schools are now in the last month of the school year including my daughter’s toddler program at her preschool.

It’s hard to believe we’re almost at the halfway point for the year 2015.  That means summer break is right around the corner.  We signed up Sparkles for five weeks of summer camp including one week of vacation Bible school.  Mr. Tickles is still too young so he’ll still be at daycare during the week.

In my previous life, (before kids) I had grandiose plans of how hubby and I would soak up the glorious sun, kick back and drink ice-cold lemonade, or finally get to visit friends, family and places that we couldn’t seem to fit into our winter schedules.  Now that we have a family I’ve had to scale back our plans for summer and plan more things to do as a family.

I won’t bore you with our family summer bucket list, instead I’ll list five book related tasks I recommed you tackle now so you can relax later and make the most of your summer fun.

1. Find a summer reading program or challenge for your kid(s) to participate in.  Your local library is a good place to start.  Every public library has a different summer reading program, but almost all of them have rewards and prizes for kids as well as fun events.  Alternatively, you can search online for challenges like the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge.  Want to know about more challenges like this?  Stay tuned for a post next week where I’ll be giving you the scoop on some other reading programs for kids.

2. Make a summer bucket reading list and a general summer bucket list of potential things to do.  If you have older children have a family meeting and ask everyone to come up with 3-5 things that they absolutely want to do this summer (e.g., go on a hike, take a long bike ride, have a picnic, camp, visit a local museum or other attraction). Schedule these activities on the calendar now (and make reservations or buy tickets, if needed) to make sure they happen.  Also, pick out some books that relate to the things on your list so the kids will be familiar with your adventure beforehand.

3. Organize a summer reading and activity essentials tote for your car so you’re prepared for any adventure or get stuck waiting somewhere. Here’s a sample list of what to include:

  • Books, books, and more books!
  • Audiobooks
  • Magazines (for children and adults)
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Bubbles! (who doesn’t love bubbles?)
  • Coloring books
  • Blank sheets of paper
  • Crayons, Markers, Bingo Markers, Pencils
  • Beach toys like pails, shovels, rakes, sand shapers, and trucks
Of course you’ll want to include other items such as: bottled water, sunscreen, first-aid kit, etc.

4.  Make a generic weekly plan. I started doing this last summer and found it to be so helpful.  It’s inevitable that other things will come up, but I like to have a loose weekly plan that I use when I don’t have the time, energy, or money to plan an exciting summer adventure.

For example:
Monday – Library Day to pick up books, magazines, and DVDs for the week.
Tuesday – Playground Day
Wednesday – Nature/Outdoor Activities
Thursday – Cooking or Crafts
Friday – Water Activities: Swimming, Splash Pad, Water Table
Saturday – Playdates with friends/family
Sunday – Family Day and Church

5. Read books about safety and talk about it too.  Accidents can happen anytime, but since we tend to spend more time outdoors during the summer months the kids are more likely to get hurt.  If you have smaller children like me, read books about safety.  For older kids, have regular, age-appropriate conversations with your kids so that topics like playgrounds, swimming pools, private parts, being aware of their surroundings, bullying, and drugs are normal conversations rather than scary topics.

Your turn:  Are you a (neurotic) planner like me or do you like to just wing it?  What do you and your kids have planned for this summer?  Please feel free to share in the comments.

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