Summer is quickly approaching, and many parents are faced with what to do with children of various ages. The country is settling into a new normal with many cities and states not offering options of summer camps or summer work programs. These things may present challenges but can be viewed as parents having control over exactly what activities their children will participate in, rather than leaving it up to camp administrators to decide. The great news is that there are still many activities that can be fun and rewarding while keeping safety and learning as the primary focus of summer tips for children.
Because summer fun generally begins with outdoor play, protecting your child’s skin from the harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun is a must. Parents should invest in a trusted brand of sunscreen. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, sunscreen for everyone she should have an SPF of 30, cover UV A and UV B rays and also be water-resistant. An SPF of 30 means that 97 percent of the sun’s rays are blocked. Sunscreen should be applied on all areas of exposure and regardless of your skin color and is essential to protect the skin from sunburn, early aging, and skin cancer. There are great options that can be found in formulations of a lotion or a spray, depending on your personal preference. Keep in mind that wearing a higher number of SPF sunscreens does not correlate to being out in the sun longer and that sunscreens must be reapplied after a certain amount of time even if you are going to be involved in water play. Overexposure to harmful ultraviolet rays can not only cause skin damage but effects on the eyes such as cataracts and macula damage. Both cataracts and macula damage can cause a worsening of vision. For this reason, it is also imperative that children wear prescription and nonprescription sunglasses or photochromic lenses to protect their eyes. Photochromic lenses are the best option if a child wears prescription glasses as those lenses will automatically darken depending on how sunny it is outdoors. Conversely, the lenses will revert back to normal once the child returns inside.
There are also more practical ways to protect the skin from the sun’s harmful rays. First, make sure to be in shade as much as possible. The rays are usually most damaging between the hours of 10:00am and 2:00pm. Also, obtain Vitamin D through supplements rather than just depending on sun exposure. Lastly, children and adults should wear lightweight clothing and a brimmed hat to prevent overheating and exposure. It is ideal to cover your body more for protection with long pants but the temperature should always be a factor in deciding if this is possible.
Activities that children like to play outside include basketball, swimming, jump rope, tennis, playground activities, bike riding, and many more. While these are all great activities, parents should consider measures to keep children safe from potential injury. Parents should consider having a travel first aid kit as you venture out for activities. Additionally, a few safety measures to remember include:
-Bike riding for any distance requires breathable clothing and properly fitted helmets to prevent head injury and concussions
-Basketball, tennis, and other activities that involve running requires athletic footwear that provides ankle support with laces tied to prevent falls
-Swimming and water play require adult and lifeguard supervision to prevent drowning and slip and fall injury
Although summer fun involves recreation, it is also a time for children to learn new concepts and to review old ones. The first place to look for grade-level learning activities should be on the child’s school and school district’s website. This resource always provides a wealth of knowledge and most districts include a summer learning packet. Other online resources include Khan Academy, Varsity Tutors, Cool Math Games, and many more. With screen time being at an all-time high, consider reading books and grade-appropriate workbooks as quality learning activities. For younger kids, this option may be better and more engaging as coloring and writing can be added to aid in increasing attention spans. Another option for learning is hands-on art and music activities. Craft stores offer online ordering of complete art kits with instructions that include painting, jewelry making, and a favorite for children, slime creation. Music activities may involve a child participating in private online instruction of an instrument they already have using video conferencing applications. Another option would be perfecting their use of instruments through watching instructional video tutorials. Let us not forget the option of learning home economics for children. These activities include how to maintain a household, (yes, chores) as well as helping to prepare meals.
Whatever you decide to do with your children, make it fun for both of you. Having a structured summer schedule sounds great but planning enjoyable and fun activities in which the children can gain knowledge about something is a better mindset to have. After all, it is summer which means relax, have lots of fun and stay safe!
Yours in Child Health,
Monica Moore, M.D.
Author, “Be Unique: A Girl’s Guide to Self-Awareness and Self-Acceptance”