It's the time of year when parents are thinking about summer vacation ideas. The final school bell of the year has rung and our neighborhoods and living rooms are once again filled with children. If left entirely to their own devices, many children would simply spend their time this summer watching daytime TV or movies or playing video games. What can we as dads do this summer to make our children's summer vacation a more productive and positive experience?
Keep Reading Alive
Invite FRED into your home
FRED is a reading program-Fathers Reading Every Day. It encourages dads to read for 15 minutes each day to their children. Find a fun and entertaining book that is appropriate to your children's ages and go for it. For suggested age-appropriate books, check out the Children's Literature Web Guide.
Consider Day Camps
During the summer, there are lots of organizations that offer summer day camps. These may be one day, or every day for a week or two, or a few days during the summer. SummerDayCamps.com offers a free listing of day camps in your area.
Summer is Recreation Time
Your local community probably offers inexpensive summer recreation programs. You might consider swimming lessons or a sport with which your child is not yet familiar. Tennis, racquetball, lacrosse and other sports are often on the menu. Some youth centers will offer guitar lessons, softball and baseball leagues and more. You can find a link to your local government's website and learn more.
Consider Daylong Field Trips
Some of our most memorable experiences as a family have been when we have taken field trips to museums, historical sites, aquariums and the like. We have learned a lot in visiting a local planetarium, children's museum, zoo or other resource. It can be great fun and a great learning experience at the same time.
How About Giving Back?
Many families find that volunteering is a great summer activity. You may be surprised to know that there are many opportunities for adults and children to volunteer together in your own community. Volunteer Match is a great website that lists community volunteering opportunities in your community; you can search by zip code and interest to find things you can do to give of yourselves this summer.
Take an Education Vacation
While it is fun to camp and fish, or to head to a famous amusement park, another fun alternative is to take a trip that involves learning. For example, a number of years ago our family took a vacation from our home in the Intermountain West to the Mississippi River area and then followed the Mormon Trail back home. We visited Hannibal, Missouri and had the Mark Twain experience and visited historical sites all along the Mormon Trail. We still have great memories from that experience. If you are visiting a city this summer, check out the local museums and other sites of interest. You may be surprised at finding out the depth and breadth of the community you are visiting.