woman working in garden

Summer break.

In a normal, non-pandemic year, it’s the most anticipated time for students. It’s that classic movie scene showing students finishing up their very last assignment before the metaphorical bell rings and they can celebrate the start of summer. They finally have all the time in the world to hang out with their friends, go to the movies, maybe take a long family vacation.

For 2020? The story’s a little different. We’ve been diligently trying to stay at home and social distance for months now. Students have not been on their regular schedule with extracurricular activities. So that “summer slump” parents and students start to feel around August, where those glittery hopes turn into dealing with bored children is already here.

It’s not that you don’t love your children, it’s that both you and your children can only enjoy so many unstructured, unproductive days. Because let’s be honest, trying to entertain your kids for months is exhausting. Unless you have signed up for our Year Round Program, you may be desperately looking for things to do!

But there’s a lot of great things about being at home more, primarily that you have the opportunity to reconnect with your family. So to keep your sanity, and help you make the most of the 2020 summer, we recommend trying out some of these simple, daily activities to keep your child’s brain active and ready for school.

Explore somewhere other than the beach!

Of course, going to the beach is awesome. And if you can find one that’s open and not too crowded, go for it! But there’s a lot of beauty in the valley of Southern California to discover! Places far away from crowds and close to natural wonders.

Why not take a hike? It’s easy to social distance, and it keeps you healthy physically and mentally–both extremely important this summer especially.

Check out Adventure Lead Tom Olson’s Video to learn about hikes in your area.

If you have space for a garden – start one

First off, if you don’t have space in your backyard (or don’t have one), you’re not excluded from this activity! Plants like succulents, tomatoes, herbs and spices will do just fine in a windowsill. You could even go all out and build your own plant terrarium from an old fish tank or even just a jar.

But, if you can get outdoors while staying at home, it will do so much for your mental health. You don’t have to spend thousands on garden tools and supplies! Building a garden space is not as difficult as it sounds; check this tutorial out. And you don’t even need a box if you don’t want. Pots are very cheap and a great way to get started.

The amazing part of living in Southern California is that you can grow just about anything here! But here are a few good ones to plant in the summer for beginners:

  • Tomatoes
  • Carrots
  • Peppers
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Basil
  • Summer flowers like dahlias, zinnias, sunflowers or marigolds

Create an obstacle course with toys or items from your garage

This is a great one to get creative with. Find pool noodles, blankets, chairs, benches, laundry baskets or whatever you can think of and build your best obstacle course. Time each other and see who can get through the fastest.

When that’s done, maybe turn the course into an indoor mini golf game?

Visit your local library

Grab your mask and head to the library! They aren’t just for books; libraries these days have games, movies audiobooks and sometimes even discounted tickets to the zoo or other events.

If you don’t feel comfortable going to the library in person, many of them have apps to access digital books for free! You will have to go in person to get your library card, but after that you can read from your digital devices at home. Reading is so good for keeping your brain active. Don’t stress what your child takes interest in reading, it doesn’t have to be a novel! Reading a comic book will still help your child retain vocabulary and comprehension skills they gained during the school year. As long as it’s not SnapChat or texting lingo, it’s progress. ūüôā

Start a virtual book club with your friends

Now that you’re equipped with your library membership card, why not make it a club? Try out Zoom for club meetings, or did you know Facebook and FaceTime allow you to do group face chats now? And those are free! Set a time with your friends and family. Assign the book and discuss chapters each week until you’ve finished the book together. It’s a great way to bond and keep your brain sharp over the summer.

And, of course, no club is complete without snacks. So have each person bring a snack to the virtual meeting and showcase what they made!

Make dinner as a family – try new recipes

Involve your child in cooking this summer. And if they’re old enough, assign them nights to make dinner for the family. You can plan it out together, grab the ingredients at the store and see what masterpieces they come up with.

You can teach the family secret recipes, but also try something new! If you’re looking for easy snack recipes to make with your child, check out this article we posted awhile back.

Family Game Night

At home is safest when needing to social distance. So, make it an opportunity to spend quality time together with a family game night.

There are the classics, like Charades, Taboo or Apples to Apples. Then, there are the more active games like Twister or indoor bowling. You can even get a little educational with something like Yahtzee, Skip-BO or 31.

Even just going on the Nintendo Switch or the Apple Arcade and playing together is a great activity.

Family Movie Night, with closet cosplay!

You’ve probably already watched more TV than you have in your life with this quarantine. But, hey, you’re probably still going to for a little while longer. So, get the creative juices flowing with a closet cosplay, meaning you dress up to the character using only what’s in your closet. You can also make a costume with materials in the home as well!

You pick the movie. Maybe it’s a Marvel movie, for example. Then each member secretly picks a character from the movie to dress up as. When you all come out and try to guess who each person is. Maybe you both end up coming out dressed as “Fat Thor,” and that makes it all the more entertaining!

You can also make desserts and snacks that go with the movie to really get you in to the spirit of the movie night.

Picnic in the park

A lot of restaurants aren’t allowing dine in at the moment, and if they do allow it, the reduced occupancy makes for long wait times.

But thank goodness the weather is beautiful here in Southern California! Support your favorite local restaurant and order take out, then take it to a nearby park for a family picnic.

If you don’t want to eat out, then make a traditional picnic. Put together some sandwiches and maybe even bake a pie and head out for a picnic.

At-home spa day

Self care is still so important. Whether you have boys or girls in the home, you can enjoy a spa day! Get some robes (or comfy clothes) on, slice those cucumbers and treat yourself! You can get cheap skin masks and foot baths on Amazon. Play some relaxing music and take care of yourselves for a day.

We will make it through this summer! Remember to take care of yourself and find gratitude where you can. We’ll see you this fall!

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