Rather than taking your child to an amusement park during the summer, ESSENCE News Editor Wendy Wilson suggests thinking more critically. Consider a family trip to a museum or the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial in Washington, DC. A Grand Canyon adventure can even become a learning experience if your child writes a report about its history or weather patterns. "Your child is learning while enjoying the family time," says Wilson. "Make it fun for them."
Wilson suggests weaving lessons into ordinary household duties. "If you're doing laundry or cooking with the kids, implore math skills," Wilson urges. For example, let the child weigh ingredients.
Summer programs organized by local community centers and churches are another good option to keep kids occupied. "Summer camp can be expensive, so there are other means if that's not an option for parents," Wilson says. Research programs thoroughly and ask other parents and teachers for recommendations. "Make sure the program is accredited and sanctioned by the city or the state," Wilson says.
It's a good idea for older kids (from 13 to 21 years old) to work for the summer. "Look into state- or city-funded summer youth employment programs," says Wilson. "They can learn responsibility, how to work on a team and how to manage money–all things that are important to their development."
Don't forget about encouraging your kids to frequent the library. "Kids can meet friends to discuss books, check out a book they're interested in, and participate in programming the library offers," Wilson says.
Many websites offer structured, educational programs for children to follow. Relying on such an online program can also relieve stress for some parents who may feel burdened by developing educational opportunities for their children without any assistance. Wilson suggests PBS KIDS Lab, Reading Rockets and Smarter Summers.