Parenting: Keeping toddlers busy during the summer

August 5, 2010

It's true, children grow up so quickly. I'm trying to really enjoy my time with them with they are young. But, it CAN be a challenge to keep the summer from getting boring and to keep children learning all summer long. But, preschoolers have limited attention spans and energy, so it is best not to over-schedule and to make sure you give your kids plenty of downtime.

But it doesn't have to be expensive.

Get Wet: One of the best ways to occupy your youngsters this super-steamy summer is putting on their bathing suits and taking to the water. A backyard or community swimming pool is the obvious place. But, even if you don't have access to a pool, your kids can have fun in the water. An old-fashioned slip and slide can entertain children for hours. Even a backyard hose can be fun (somehow, my husband has managed to get Luke and Emma to enjoy washing the cars!) And, as politically incorrect as it may be, we bought our children water guns the other day. They love them. The rules are no shooting people or animals, and only to be used outside!

Arts and crafts: Preschoolers love to create and be artistic. It doesn't take more than some sheets of construction paper and crayons for my 3-year-old daughter, Emma. Add a few princess stickers and she can create her own kingdom. For my 4-1/2 year old Luke, I collect family magazines that have easy arts and crafts instructions. The key is to make the projects open-ended and let creativity take full reign.

The library: Not only is the library a great source for children's books, many local libraries host a multitude of children's activities: from story time, puppet shows, to children's music concerts. Check with your community libraries and you may be pleasantly surprised.

Outdoor concerts: Another great free activity is the local summer concert series held in parks throughout our area. We took Luke and Emma to see the Brandywine Ballet last week at Rosetree Park. It was a beautiful night, it was free and we all got a nice dose of culture. If they are held at night, you may want to do what we did: leave at intermission so your little ones get to bed on time.

Have a great summer and happy parenting!

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