For most of us, a Minnesota summer means a less structured schedule (for the kids, anyway), warmer temperatures, longer days, abundant plants and wildlife, and liquid lakes. Take advantage of this special time of year as a family to promote relationship building, healthy habits and your child’s development.
Outside play encourages development
Encourage your children to venture outside for playtime. Kids need the sensory stimulation of sights, smells, sounds and textures that can only be found outdoors. Aim for a balance of structured activities (play groups, team sports, etc) and free play time where kids find their own fun. Age-appropriate adult supervision (and involvement) is crucial.
Limit screen time in the summer
Limit screen time from any source (TV, computer, phone, tablet, etc.) to two hours per day or less. Kids need to move their bodies and exercise their minds. Set an example for your kids by limiting your own screen time. Phones in particular can be a major safety hazard when they distract you from playing with or supervising your kids at the playground, pool, or elsewhere.
Have a family meal time as often as possible in the summer
Prioritize family time, particularly family meals. Summertime meals together (without screens of any sort) provide the opportunity to talk to your kids. Ask them questions about their activities, thoughts and feelings. As they discover their own likes and dislikes, learn with them. Mealtime is the perfect time to share your own values and priorities with your kids, too. Conversation is a learned skill. Use summertime meals to develop it as family.
Incorporate fresh summer fruits and vegetables into your snacks and mealtimes together. Consider planting a garden with your children or go to a farmer’s market together. Let your child take ownership in growing or picking out healthy foods to eat and watch as they develop another crucial life skill.