Take a Break: Fun Summer Tips to Share With Your Students and Their Families

Summer TipsWhen the stars aligned and life events shifted in my little world four years ago, it meant I finally had some time off work during the summer months. My then-7-year-old daughter was ecstatic. Suddenly, we had FOUR WHOLE WEEKS to travel, explore, lounge around the lake, take the dogs for hikes, you-name-it. Summer was ON.

Since then, I’ve become addicted to finding new, fun and affordable things to do during the summer months. Sometimes it’s big gestures (we tour a new city each summer. Last year it was New York City, this summer we traipsed around Washington D.C. for two days.) Other times it’s as simple as biking from our house to a lake 10 miles away and then swimming for a couple hours before heading home in time to make dinner. I’ve found that my daughter is more relaxed during the summer, and not so eager to hang out with her friends instead of her mom, so I take full advantage of these rare mother-daughter-bonding opportunities. We suggest you encourage your students and their families to do the same. Below are a few suggestions, resources, and summer tips for enjoying summer’s long, lazy days and warm, star-filled nights.

Keep it local (and free!) — You don’t have to travel far away to enjoy your summer. If you’re in or near an urban area, check the local library listings and city parks and rec schedule for free, family friendly activities going on in your neck of the woods. In Portland, Ore., for instance, the city’s Parks and Recreation department is hosting nearly 100 free concerts and family friendly movies in local parks this summer, as well as three months’ worth of free lunches and games for families in playgrounds throughout the city.  The folks in Lansing, Mich., are celebrating that city’s 20th annual free Concerts in the Park series, and in Charlotte, N.C., the local mall transforms its outdoor courtyard into an open-air movie theater for families during the summer months.

Play tourist — Part of the thrill of being a tourist is making new discoveries and feeling open to adventure. But you don’t have to leave your town to play tourist. My daughter and I have a monthly “tourist day,” where we hit some of our city’s most popular tourist spots. We stay away from the ones we’re used to and try out new museums, gardens, and other attractions. We always have a great time learning something new about our own hometown, and at the end of the day we don’t have to trudge to a boring motel room, because home is just a few miles away. Some summer tips for playing tourist:

  • Is there a part of your city or region that you rarely explore? Check out these areas first. Map out your day like a real tourist to maximize your time and see as many sites as you can. Sometimes this type of whirlwind adventure makes you feel like you truly are in a new city.
  • Leave the car at home. We like to take public transportation when we play tourist. Often, if you’re riding with morning commuters, you can really pretend like you’re a newbie and ask for some summer tips on cool places to check out during your “visit.” Other locals may have ideas and know of local haunts that you’ve never even thought about.
  • If you’re going to grab lunch on the run, go somewhere brand new. Keeping all of the sights and faces fresh will help you feel like an authentic tourist.

Soak up the sun — You can’t have a list of summer tips that doesn’t include plenty of outdoor time. These are the months to soak up that vitamin D and let your inner mermaid/gymnast/tree-climber shine. If the local swimming pool is too crowded, head for a lake. Most lakes that have swimming areas will be super crowded on the weekends, so if you have a free weekday, pack a picnic, throw on your suits, bring a good book and slather on the sunscreen (check out Safe Mama’s guide to the best natural sunscreens for children) and head to the nearest lake for a day of old-fashioned fun. Summer is an excellent time to check out new bike paths, hiking trails, playgrounds, grassy hills (to roll down!) and other fun, outdoor spots in your area. Let your children dictate which outdoor activity they want to try and then go with it. Even if it’s just a two-hour walk through the woods, they’re going to remember that way more than two hours spent inside, playing video games or watching television.

Other resources/summer tips to share with your students and their families:

What are your summer tips for having fun and being creative during these long, warm months? Share your tips and ideas with other educators in our Comments section below.

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