by: Dr. Meg Carroll, 2nd Vice President of LDA of Illinois

Challenge #1: School is out; kids may say, “I don’t have to use my brain.”


  • Try to find at least one instance each day in which your child effectively uses problem solving to make decisions; call attention to this and give praise.
  • Tell kids that no school means time to devote to other learning that is crowded out during the school year.
  • Engage your child with you when you have to solve problems.
  • Help your child see that effort pays off and be pleased about that.

Challenge #2: I’m bored; what is there to do?

Solutions: Spend time with your child—

  • At the library (once per week or once every two weeks)
  • Watching television (try three times per week)
  • Having meals (daily if possible)
  • Doing errands together
  • At fun events, including museums, carnivals, movies, and park district events.
  • Help your child plan ahead.
  • Provide some structure.
  • Coordinate with other parents.
  • Spend a day looking through belongings. Make a “home museum” exhibit.
  • Make lists for rainy days, hot days, cool days, etc. and use them.
  • Consider adding a daily “schoolish” activity.
  • Plan a communication system. How will you communicate with your child while you are at work? When will you and your child talk about the day?
  • Use arts and crafts.
  • Go to suburban professional sports (or AAA clubs, AA clubs, A clubs, rookie clubs, or short-season leagues); these are often less expensive and make it easier for families to find good seats.
  • Use newspaper weekend guides for ideas.
  • Use parents magazines, including Exceptional Parent for ideas.

Challenge #3: Kids expect a feverish pitch of fun activities; grownups think vacation means a slower pace.


  • Discuss expectations before summer begins.
  • Make the child responsible for planning and carrying out activity plans as much as possible.
  • Do some dreaming rather than doing.
  • Include activities strictly revolving around coolness.
  • Use video tapes for vicarious traveling.
  • Read and watch movies of the same stories.

Specific Activities:
1. Use a cook book, especially for outdoor cooking or refrigerator items.
2. Create a collection and display area for it.
3. Collect something for money (e.g., aluminum recycling) and use the money for some predetermined activity or item.
4. Garden.
5. Use water

• Wash the car.
• Wash the aluminum siding.
• Wash the yard equipment.
• Make designs with water in dish detergent, syrup, or mustard bottles.
• Make outdoor “soup.” (Be creative about what goes in the pot: leaves, stones, grass, flowers, sticks, etc.)
• Make ice cube pops with flavored drinks.
• Make “slushee type” drinks.

6. Use paper

• Fold (Origami).
• Draw.
• Paint.
• Fingerpaint.
• Cut objects.
• Glue cut pieces onto other paper.

7. Use books

• Read.
• Get ideas for things to do.
• Look up information for some activity.
• Look at pictures.
• Write books like the ones you’ve read.
• Talk about books after you have read them.
• Read aloud to each other.

8. Use tapes.

• Learn a foreign language.
• Listen to music.
• Sing with music.
• Change the words to something silly or fun.
• Dance to music.
• Learn sign language (online free resource:
• Watch films in a series or genre: mystery, Tarzan, Thin Man, superheroes, animal movies, etc.

9. Get lots of physical activity; get extra sleep—you’ll sleep better and so will your child after a good amount of physical activity.

10. Veg out!!! (at least once in a while)

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