Plan for a Safe and Fun Summer with These Resources

roller skates

by Gloria DeGaetano

Safety First!

You may want to consider posting important safety reminders on the refrigerator door for the activities your children will be participating in over the summer months. The Internet helps you make it easy to ensure your kids know how to play and swim safely this summer. Here are several great sites and what they have to offer:

Bicycle Safety
Features a reproducible that can promote children's chart-reading skills while stressing the importance of strapping on safety gear.
Safety Out in the Sun
You can print a colorful chart to add to your child's growing ability to read charts and to learn the symptoms of various heat disorders, along with the first aid that is in order for each!
Amusement Park Safety
Child Find provides many common sense rules for both adults and the children. For example: Adults: Have the child wear a bright shirt or something distinctive so he or she can be spotted in a crowd. Child: Pay attention to what your parent/caregiver is wearing, so if you are separated you can easily describe the adult you were with.
General Summer Safety
A fun site from Education World features a Food Safety Quiz for Kids ages, 11–15, and a Safety in the Woods Poster for children ages, 5–8.

Creative Picnic Ideas for Family Fun

You don't have to do anything fancy to celebrate summer with a family picnic. Since the summer goes by so quickly, you can take advantage of sunny weather for more fun family time together. Here are a few ideas to get started!

Picnic on your own lawn/porch—or right outside your door.
Put down a blanket, grab the paper plates, and bring out sandwiches! One family started having a "lawn picnic" in mid week to "decompress." Nothing fancy…but the kids loved the novelty of it. Curious neighbors soon decided to have a picnic on their lawns, too—on the same night. The children played together; the adults talked till night fell. They discovered ways so the stay-at-home parents could take the others' children to the beach or to a local park. The working parents returned favors with children's sleep-overs on weekends. A neighborhood of parents and kids connected with each, divided labor, and enjoyed summer with their children in new ways!
Pack a picnic basket and take it to a local park.
It doesn't take much effort to pack a picnic basket, a blanket, and drive or walk to a local park. Once there, freesbies, balls and bats come out. The kids get exercise; the parents have no clean up in the kitchen. And importantly, the change of scenery out in nature can re-store and re-fresh everyone.
Rainy day? No problem.
Say to your children, "We are going to have a picnic at Yellowstone Park (or any national park of your choosing) today!" Let them be mystified. Then:
  • Take a trip to your near-by video store or library and get a travel video on Yellowstone Park.
  • On the way home, stop at KFC or a grocery store with take-out, and get fried chicken, potato salad, and other picnic food.
  • Go home and put a tablecloth on the floor in front of the TV, plug in the video, set down the food, and pretend you are at the park while you eat! A great way to decide where you want to go on a family vacation or prepare for an upcoming trip!

Reading Can Be Fun!

What's more indulgent than curling up with a great book on a warm summer afternoon? Whether up in a tree house or stretching out on the front lawn, kids can open pages to new adventures and discover more about themselves this summer, especially with our help and encouragement.

Step 1: Motivate

If your son or daughter has been captured by Harry Potter, you can find similar fantasy fare. Or try introducing your child to new books, using books on tape. All he or she has to do is listen to the story. What could be easier? The point is to hook your child on how wonderful a good story can be. Once kids desire to read "from the inside out," there's no going back!

Some great places on the web to discover the best in child and teen literature:
List of Newberry Award winners—fabulous for kids 4th–8th grades!
List of Caldecott Award winners, wonderfully illustrated and written books for younger children.

Step 2: Find Time

Structure summer reading time and its sure to pay off when school starts in September. What about…

Step 3: Enjoy

Modeling our love of reading as parents is perhaps the best thing we can do to make reading a life-long habit for our kids. After all, what fires us up, sparks our children's interests and gifts them with burning desire! So indulge yourself with that next favorite read without guilt—after all, it's in your job description to role model the fun of reading to your children. No one can do it better, so enjoy!

Gloria DeGaetano, founder and director of the Parent Coaching Institute, is a nationally recognized educator, speaker, author, and parent coach.