With summer vacation right around the corner (or already begun, as at my house and many others), moms around the country find themselves with extra kids running around the house, and often find themselves at a loss as to what to do! I hear from SO many mothers that they just run out of ideas as to how to spend the long summer days with their children. With a failing economy and gas prices on the rise, I realize even “staycations” may not be possible for many families, so I wanted to provide you with ideas of things you can do with your kids at home, for little or no money. These will be FUN, educational, and easy activities that ANYBODY can do.  I will be posting an idea each day throughout the summer for you. Some ideas will be more extravagant, while others will be super simple. The idea here is to just get involved with your kids….PLAY. LAUGH. LEARN.

Day One

Activity: Summer Goal Setting

Suitable For: 4+ (Some four year-olds may struggle with this activity, while others may be ready. Use your best judgement. This can be modified and used with children ages 4 through high school.)

Skills: Goal-setting, Cause and effect, determination, perseverance, hard-work, achievement, self-pride

How To: Sit down with your child and brainstorm several goals you’d like them to achieve during the summer. I recommend that you both come up with several things for your list. The goals can be educational, skills-related, task-related, chore-related…the possibilities are wide open to do whatever will work best for your family, but I suggest a mix of each of the above. Discuss the goals your child comes up with, and let them know of a few goals you might have for them as well. This should be a collaborative process, and you should settle on goals that are within your child’s reach. Goals should be simple, measurable, and attainable.

Once you’ve come up with your list, post it! We made a colorful Word document, and posted it on the fridge. This is a great reminder for Hannah (our five year old), to see what she is working towards.

Set a reward. (Some parents are super against using a reward system, and I agree that it can be over-used. However, I think it is fun to teach children that when they put in hard-work, good things follow.) At our  house, we have agreed that when ALL of the goals have been met, Hannah gets to go to a local fun-center to play. (This is a special treat for her, and something she is very much looking forward to. This is a very big motivator for her.) We may decide to reward her with something simple when each individual goal is accomplished as well, but that will likely be something much smaller, like a special treat, new book, etc.

Extensions: Set a few goals for YOURSELF. Usually, I will post learning extensions for your kids in this section, but today I wanted to challenge you to extend this activity to yourself. Set a list of 5 or so goals for you to accomplish this summer. These can be anything from cleaning out the garage, to reading 5 books, weeding the flower beds, purging your closet, etc. Set a reward for yourself too! Post your goals next to your child’s list and work together. When your child sees you working towards something, you are setting such a powerful example for them.

Examples: To get you thinking, I wanted to share a few of the goals we came up with for Hannah.

1. Learn to count to 100

2. Learn to tie her own shoes

3. Memorize her address and phone number

She also has a few reading goals, and several other things like planting her own garden. She and I worked to develop a list together of skills that were gong to be useful for kindergarten, but that were also going to be fun for her to work on. I will be working to come up with my own list of goals over the next few days. I hope some of you will try out the day one activity! Stay tuned for Day 2 coming up tomorrow!  Here’s to a FUN summer full of activity with our kids!