How To Plan Summer Activites For Kids

"Ok, swimming for me!"
"I want drums."
"I like guitar better."
"I think I'll try ice skating."

The boy is 10 and the girl is 7. At this stage, they are more curious and more open to try new things. As coach Pia Acevedo advised, we have to let the child explore their talents before they reach high school.  Since summer season is about to start, it's time to map out how the kids can have a meaningful vacation time.

Let me first thank Unilab, one of the country's top healthcare companies, for making this #BetterMe session possible for us, with the expertise of coach Pia Acevedo of The One Core, and Dad's World Buffets in Megamall for providing the venue and sumptuous lunch for everyone. More on what we ate at the end of this post.

Here's a simple guide based on what coach Pia has outlined for us moms to help plan a meaningful summer.  The key word here is "explore".

1. Set an objective for each child
  • Make sure that the plan is within your (parents) capacity to support the child's summer program
  • There should also be teamwork among the parents and caregivers - validate child's work in front of your partner
  • Time and resources should be available to support the activities

2. Summer it NOT about you (parent) and what you wished to have/do as a child
  • Expose them to different options, but don't spend too much since the child is still exploring
  • "Explore" should be in your mind so there's no commitment and no disappointment
  • Inform the child first before signing him up for a class or lesson - remember, it's not about what you want
3. Trial and Error is the best guide
  • Avail of free trial classes for programs that interest your child, or what you like for him to try
  • Don't commit to more than 4 sessions, if possible
4. Provide options
  • Present general categories or fields and ask what he likes to explore - i.e. sports, arts, theater, music, etc.
  • Most often than not, 8-year olds and below will change their mind
  • Even house chores count as activities too - assign or delegate age-appropriate tasks and give incentives for certain chores (don't bribe - being able to try/experience is the reward itself)
Checklist from Maria Montessori, FB Page

5. Involve your child to ensure they are more engaged
  • Talk to them one on one to discuss interests - best without a sibling so as not to influence the child
  • Explore possible summer activities with a child as young as 2 years old
  • When suggesting possible programs your child may not be keen on, you can ask a friend, cousin, relative, or someone without close dynamics with the child, to open the topic and encourage him to try something new - he can be more receptive if not coming from you; or use a script to open the topic:
    • What do you think you would feel if....?
    • What do you guess it might be like?
    • What would you do if ___ happened?
6. Learn from experience - guide your child to look back
  • Allow self-discovery
  • Move forward with self-knowledge - he can pursue to advanced levels to hone and develop skills and grow with the program

When enrolling children, coach Pia added that families should try not to put siblings or cousins in the same class to avoid rivalry.

After this session, it's clearer to me that I need to allow the kids to explore their interests and involve them with the plans for this summer.  We just have to narrow down our choices and plan a manageable schedule for the family since everyone will be involved.

Of course, summer is not about having a full schedule of classes for my kids. I want their summer vacation to feel like a vacation and not an extension of their school year.  More family time, more me time (for themselves), and more recreational activities.  That is why I am personally against putting my kids in academic programs during summer.  I also don't want to over book my kids and burn them out with a hectic week. One or two programs/courses would be enough. That's just me. Some kids seek and enjoy numerous daily activities planned out by their parents, so good for them.

I consider myself fortunate to be a stay-at-home-mom, so during the break we're good with a twice- or thrice-weekly classes, and they stay home the rest of the week helping with the chores, playing outdoors, or just bum around with me, heeheehee... :)  I think it's actually a good thing - for kids to bum around and do nothing for a day, or to do whatever. I look at it as their day-off, to recharge and relax. Kids need their down time too.

Definitely, there are advantages in having children take enrichment classes, like reading and math, especially if there's a need to improve in those areas.  As parents, we do what we have to for the best interest of our child, with whatever works for each family. For me, I prefer enrolling them in leisurely programs like sports, music, or art classes - to tap or develop hidden talents/skills which we don't have the time to explore during the school year.  I'm also putting myself in their shoes. When I was their age, I certainly didn't want to go anywhere near academics during my limited summer vacation! =)

If I had my way, and have enough resources, we'll plan lots of field trips during the break.

As I've mentioned, this parenting session with coach Pia was generously sponsored by one of the trusted medicine brands, Unilab, who advocates family health and wellness. And there's Dad's World Buffets, a favorite place for celebrations, with a buffet of delicious continental cuisines. They now offer more food choices since I last dined there.  Whether for lunch or dinner, you can now delight you palate with their lechon and carving stations, oyster bar, Brazilian churrasco, Chinese dimsum, and bottomless fruit juices, among other favorites.  Look at some of the offerings during our lunch session. Foodgasm!!!

As with all our past sessions, I've learned so much from this one, and I hope you did too. :)  This SoMoms #BetterMe session in planning a meaningful summer is so timely and relevant. Hopefully, I can help my kids explore and decide on what they like to do, and apply these tips while we carefully plan on how we are going to spend our summers.

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