“What are you guys doing this summer?”
Most parents of school-aged children are familiar with this question. We are fortunate to live in a city such as Madison and its surrounding townships which offer so many activities for our children.
Play is so important for the well-being of the whole child. We know play has beautiful benefits, including enhancing creativity and overall mental hygiene and simply being plain fun (try it yourself). One key medical benefit of outside play is the opportunity to be engaged in vigorous activity, which is integral to the prevention of obesity and its consequences.
Many families take vacations in the summer. It’s wonderful to be away and explore a new place, far or near, while connecting with your child in unstructured and unexpected ways. Don’t underestimate the benefits of alone time with your family. Even something local, including walking around our wonderful farmers’ markets, offers us exercise and access to fresh, colorful foods.
Summer can be a time to try things out. Maybe there is an instrument, sport or type of dance that your child has been inquiring about, and you simply don’t have the time to commit to it during the school year. Many places offer abbreviated options to try an activity. And there is the added benefit that your child gets the exposure without the time and financial burdens of a semester or school-year commitment.
Summer can also be a time of enrichment. It can offer more relaxed or free time to have family reading time with your child or work on confidence in certain skills while “playing in the park.” It could be an extra mini-camp for your child who loves basketball but cannot devote time to it during the school year.
And speaking of camps, there are lots of choices: overnight camps, day camps, twilight camps, weekend camps. Appropriate camps with trained counselors can nurture self–reliance, social skills and overall maturity. Such camps can provide fun new environments to form new friendships.
Happy summer planning! Keep it safe, healthy and as simple as possible. And make sure you get on a park swing this summer; your child and you will thank me for it.
Here are a few summer family resources that you can check out.
- Madison Parks
- Dane County Parks
- Madison School & Community Recreation
- Family-friendly Guide to the Greater Madison Area
- City of Madison Recreation
- Middleton Public Lands, Recreation, & Forestry
- Sun Prairie Recreation & Aquatics
- Verona Recreation Department
Don’t forget to follow our Growing Up Healthy blog this summer. We’ll have even more tips for keeping kids active, safe and healthy this summer. And we’ll have weekly prize drawings from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
What are your plans for this summer? Leave a comment and let us know.