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6 Ways To Help Your Child Stay In Touch With Friends Over the Summer

Posted on Aug 1, 2017 2:26:31 PM by Laurel Robinson

Now that the kids have had a few weeks to relax and enjoy “doing nothing,” parents might be feeling like it is time to be proactive about finding ways for kids to see their friends over the summer break. 

 6 Ways To Help Your Child Stay In Touch With Friends Over the Summer

There are a variety of reasons to work on this goal:

  • A desire for our kids to maintain relationships that started in school but have not continued into the summer due to schedule conflicts or geographical challenges.
  • A desire for our kids to make NEW friends in addition to the kids they were with every day at school.
  • A desire to keep our kids from getting swallowed up in screens for several hours a day.  

On that last point, most kids will vigorously make the case that  spending time with friends is NOT mutually exclusive with looking at screens. This is true: there is video chatting, texting, online hangouts, and of course, getting together and playing video games.  We may not be able to convince kids that there is more to life than facing a screen, so we will have to help them discover it themselves!  As adults, we know that some of the most valuable times with friends are face to face, and that when we go through a little bit of “boredom,” we can end up being very creative and having a lot of fun!.


The first step is reaching out. Social media is helpful for getting in touch with people.  If you can’t find them online, call a mutual friend to make the connection.  Most parents would be happy to receive an invitation for their child to come and hang out for the day.  It can take a few tries to make contact, and a few tries to find a time that works for everyone, but press on!  If you have never met the parents before, you might want to invite the whole family to meet your family at a local ice cream or snowball stand, so you can all be more comfortable getting in touch (and swapping kids) in the future.

 

Some ideas for ways that kids can spend time with their friends:

Host a party.  Let your kids plan it!  It doesn’t have to be a special occasion, or an expensive event.  Rather than do a lot of cooking, you can host a potluck meal, or an ice cream social, or have an evening party with a bonfire (and s’mores, of course) or glow sticks and popsicles. For older kids, there are “murder mystery” party kits, and you can also find online a kit for hosting your own “escape room” party.


Lawn games.  Water balloons, corn hole, badminton, and croquet are all fairly easy to obtain. Most of them can be played with just two people who would otherwise be hanging around bored. Don’t forget Nerf gun battles!


Board games.  There is an abundance of (sneakily educational) board games available. If you don’t have any, chances are your kids’ friends will!  If you want to buy some but don’t know where to start, check out some mom bloggers’ reviews of board games. Homeschooling blogs may also have some good suggestions. These personal reviews are often helpful because as you read the reviews, you will get a feel for whether it’s your kid’s style of game or not.  If you don’t have board games on hand, get creative: pull out a jigsaw puzzle, or take three easy ones and mix them together to provide a challenge.


Dance party.  Get a few tweens together -- especially girls -- and play some of their favorite songs from your favorite music streaming service, and it will soon turn into a singalong.  Add a twist by playing “freeze dance”-- everyone dances while the music plays, but  freezes when the music stops (at random intervals). Depending on the group, they may soon be playing one song over and over so they can choreograph their own moves to it.


Share a good deal.  Check Groupon, LivingSocial, Certifikid and similar sites for great deals on camps, trampoline parks, plays, or local fairs.  Invite a friend to join your child on one of these. Vacation Bible school or other church-sponsored camps are another great opportunity to invite friends to join your child in some fun.


Make a video.  Rather than simply consuming media, let your kids experience the work and play that goes into creating it!  If your kid and his or her friends are so inclined, give them a camera and let them make videos, just for fun.  From stop-motion videos to tutorials, almost any interest could become inspiration for a video. If you have software and the kids have the interest, the video could even get edited and shared (with your approval, of course).

Don’t let the summer slide by.  Make a phone call or two today, and get some “play dates” on the calendar!

8 Creative Ways To Keep Your Kids Active Over the Summer

Posted on Jun 27, 2017 11:10:08 AM by Laurel Robinson

How can we keep our kids active over the summer? It’s great to celebrate the end of a school year and let the kids’ brains have a little change of pace, but most parents don’t want their kids to start up a new pattern that involves a lot of sitting in front of a screen.  How can we encourage them to get some physical activity over the summer months without hearing the words “I’m bored?”

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There are the traditional options--bike riding, roller skating, swimming, games that involve running, and passing a ball or hitting a tennis ball against a wall. However, here are some other ideas that might help you stretch into new territory:

Plant a garden.  Your children may take interest and ownership in a few flowers or vegetable seeds planted in their own designated spot.  In addition to watching the growth over the weeks, your young gardeners may find themselves enjoying outdoor time weeding plants, arranging rocks or twigs decoratively, watering, or even composting!


Paint or build.  If you have the space, set your kids free with some paint and let them “decorate” the back of the shed,  large rocks, or some other area on your property. You can also work together with some scrap materials to build something that they have designed. It doesn’t have to be perfect; the process of thinking and creating will strengthen important areas of their brain!


Walk the dog(s).  If you have a dog you may already have your child walk it. However, if your neighbors or friends have dogs your child may be interested in getting some experience with them. This could even lead to a paying job in the future!


Host a neighborhood event. Whatever your child is already interested in, is there a way to turn it into a social event or a fun contest?  Chalk drawings, scooter races, water balloon fights, art shows, or even a litter pick-up -- the possibilities vary widely based on your neighborhood and your family.


Hit the trails.  There are many great hiking trails, some only half a mile and others longer.  Some trails have sights such as a waterfall or old buildings to reward the diligent.  (Here is a list of scenic hikes in Maryland. In the sidebar, current local events8 Ways to Keep Kids Active Over Summer 2.png are listed.) Kids are great at finding “treasures” along the way.  My daughter found a horseshoe and an empty turtle shell one year and they are still treasures in her bedroom. Check the weather ahead of time, pack some snacks, and plan a hike on a day that is going to be pleasant so the kids will want to do it again!  (Remember to check for ticks afterward!)  


Parks and libraries.  There are also several parks which have playgrounds, fields for ball practice, batting cages, paved paths for biking, and perhaps good Pokemon scouting! Check the event listings of parks as well at your local library for activities.


Go Fishing. Liberty Reservoir and Piney Run Park are just two locations where Maryland residents can go fishing. There are smaller ponds in local areas, as well. Be sure to get a fishing license.  It will last a year!


TV trainer. If it’s not a good day to go somewhere, keep an exercise  DVD on hand.  There are plenty at the library (and online) which are geared specifically for kids.  Pilates, yoga, dance - one of these should get your kids moving!  One of my not-so-active kids enjoys learning dance routines from videos on YouTube.


As parents, we can model being active -- not to mention a willingness to  “try new things.” Even if you only do some of these things once and decide they are not for you, you can be proud of yourselves for trying something new -- and it may lead to a new friend, or idea, or a funny story to tell.  


Happy Summer!

3 Ways to Refocus Commercial Christmas Traditions on Christ

Posted on Dec 22, 2016 11:43:34 AM by Nikki Roberti Miller

In this age of commercialism, it’s getting harder and harder to keep the focus of Christ in

Christmas for our children. From all the presents to Santa Claus on every corner, it can send a

confusing message. Here are three ways to refocus common commercialized traditions back onto the real reason

for the season.

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Makeover #1: Commercial Advent Calendars



Counting down to Christmas is fun, especially if you get a chocolate each day like many favorite

Santa-themed advent calendars. But why not take it a step further? Make or purchase a reusable

advent calendar with slots that will fit a piece of paper. Each day, your child can read a verse

about the Christmas story leading up to Jesus’ birth on Dec. 25th. It’ll be a favorite tradition for

years to come. Here’s a list of verses to get you started.



Makeover #2: Elf on the Shelf



It seems like everyone has these “toys” nowadays, and for younger children, it’s hard not to feel

left out when everyone else has a “Mr. Jingles” who moves every night before they wake. But it

doesn’t have to be a “Santa spy” tradition like many make it out to be. Why not turn the old-

school elf into a “kindness elf” that leaves messages to your child about how to bless others as

God has blessed us this Christmas season? Or, look into the Christian version of Elf on the Shelf,

“The Christmas Angel” which leaves a message for your child each day on how to show love to

others.



Makeover #3: Santa Claus 

 

Whether Santa Claus is a tradition your family loves or something you all choose to stay away

from, there’s no denying it can be a sticky situation for all involved. On one hand, you want to

instill truth into your child and teach them how to have unwavering faith in real things like our

Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. On the other hand, you may not want them to ruin Santa Claus for

other children who believe or even deprive your children of a tradition you loved as a child.

One way to eliminate the drama is to tell the historical story of the real Saint Nicholas, a

Christian who believed in giving to those in need, just as Jesus taught us. Explain that the

tradition of Santa Claus originated from his kindness and then read passages in the Bible together

about how we are to take care of others in need as well (for example: Proverbs 19:17, Hebrews

13:16, Acts 20:35). Together you can get excited about “being” a Santa Claus this Christmas

season.

Have your child pick someone they know that needs something and then help them

deliver it anonymously. They’ll get a firsthand experience of how it’s “better to give than to

receive” while also making the Christmas season more special than ever before.

5 Cabin Fever Cures for Families

Posted on Feb 17, 2015 6:00:00 AM by Kim Schlauch

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The groundhog recently saw its shadow, predicting six more weeks of winter.  This does not bode well for those of us who favor warmer temperatures nor for those responsible for young ones inclined to climb the walls during the cold, dark days of winter.  Here are a few fun ideas to help you maintain your sanity and keep cabin fever at bay:

  1. Hold a Summer Vacation Reunion.  Dig out the family photos and videos from your last family summer vacation.  Take time to reminisce and share stories of your trip adventures.  Have each family member identify a favorite personal highlight of the trip.kids_in_tent_-_Amanda_Westmont

  1. Plan an Indoor Picnic.  Instead of the usual meal at the table, spread out a blanket and have a picnic.  Involve the family in planning and preparing a menu.  Keep it simple so that you can focus on enjoying one another’s company during the meal.

  1. Compose a Summer Day Trip Wish List.  Gather together and share your thoughts and ideas on fun outings you might want to take when the weather warms up.  Decide on a top few choices and do some research on the selected destinations.  Talk about what you might learn and experience when visiting these places.

  2. Go Camping.  Set up a tent or rig up a blanket fort in your family room.  Grab your flashlights and sleeping bags and a favorite book or story to share with one another.
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  3. Spend Some Time Outdoors.  A bit of fresh air and outdoor exercise is good, regardless of the season.  Bundle up and go for a walk or go sledding if there is enough snow on the ground.  Plan something to look forward to when you come inside, such as a hot bath, warm pj’s or a mug hot chocolate.

Warmer temperatures will be here before we know it.  In the meantime, take advantage of ways to enjoy some family time together and help one another keep the winter doldrums from setting in.



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Topics: Family Fun