School’s out and the kids are home for the summer. Now what? No matter their ages, it can be tough to find exciting and fun ways to keep your kids moving after the routine of school is over. Thankfully, the typically warm weather and wealth of activity options that come with this season help to facilitate staying active. Here are a few ways to encourage your kids to keep moving during the summer. 

You Move, They Move

A family hiking on a local hiking trail.

Image via Flickr by blmcalifornia

One of the best ways to motivate your kids to enjoy exercise is by doing it yourself. If they see their parents regularly getting out for a run, going for a hike, or enjoying a bike ride, most kids will want to join in. If you can make family exercise a priority from a young age, that habit will carry over into the teen years. 

If you don’t have a regular exercise habit or struggle to be active yourself, consider getting started with a simple plan to go for family walks around the neighborhood a few times a week or head to a local trail for regular bike rides. You could even start a consistent morning yoga practice for the family

You don’t have to set the perfect or most intense example, but kids typically like to do what they see their parents enjoy doing. So, if you’re not a fan of outdoor activities, try to show excitement anyway. If kids constantly hear their parents complaining about being active, they’re probably not going to be motivated to do so themselves. 

Plan Adventures

Inside of simply going for a walk or to the park, consider planning a fun family adventure. Get your kids excited about an outing by telling them you’re going on an adventure. Maybe you’re looking to discover a new bird you’ve never seen before at the nearest wildlife refuge. Research nearby places to hike and create an easy scavenger hunt for particular colors of leaves or rocks. You could even get older kids involved in the plan by helping them make maps of your hike. 

If you have some strong imaginations in your crew, roll with it. Pretend like you’re going on an adventure around the neighborhood to find some dinosaur bones or a mysterious animal. You could even keep it as simple as having the kids count how many colored doors they see on houses you pass during a leisurely walk or count how many runners you pass on a nearby multi-use trail. There are tons of ways to turn time outside into an exciting adventure, you just might need to get creative or tap into online resources like family and parenting blogs. 

Make Play Dates

Encourage your kids to play with other kids from their class over the summer or meet up with friends at the park or pool. Even just inviting neighborhood kids over to play outside is a great way to develop your children’s social skills and keep them active. Younger kids can enjoy running around outside in the yard with some simple toys like jungle gyms, balls, and slides. Older kids might need more structure, so consider setting up some soccer nets or a miniature basketball court. 

Play dates are an important aspect of child development. They encourage sharing and learning how to interact with others in healthy ways. If kids go all summer without playing with any other kids outside of their family, they might have trouble getting used to being in a class with other kids when school starts up again in the fall. 

Limit Screen Time

With so many different types of devices and streaming services available today, many kids are starting to prefer sedentary activity in front of a screen over going outside to play and move. You don’t necessarily need to totally cut your kids off from screens, but it can be helpful to create rules around screen time and discuss them with your kids. Maybe you make a one-hour limit for screen time each day. Or maybe they can earn 30 minutes of screen time for completing a chore. 

If your kids are used to lots of screen time and you want to make a change, be sure to explain what’s happening and make the change gradually. Cutting a kid off from something they enjoy with no warning or structure can make things difficult and frustrating for everyone. Many children respond well to using timers. Consider setting a timer for 20 minutes or so on the tablet, phone, gaming system, or whatever device they’re using. Then, once they’ve used up the time, the rest of their playtime can be spent moving outside or inside if the weather isn’t cooperating. 

Check Out Local Programs

Local churches, community centers, and schools often offer summer camps and programs. Check out what’s available in your area and see if your kids would enjoy being involved in a few local activities. Lots of kids attend vacation bible school programs at nearby churches and participate in educational summer camps hosted by nearby science museums. Chat with neighbors or friends who live nearby to see if they have any recommendations. 

Don’t Overdo It

Finally, as you’re considering ways to get your kids moving this summer, be careful not to start out doing too much. Find activities that are suitable for your kids’ ages and abilities. If they get worn out or injured during one of their first summer activities, they could become uninterested or even unable to participate in future adventures. 

Crème de la Crème values healthy exercise and active lifestyles in children. Many of our programs and curriculum elements feature movement and physical activity. Our summer camp programs are a great resource for parents who want to keep their kids moving throughout the season but have limited available time to get out and be active as a family. Don’t let the warm weather and opportunities for adventure pass you by. Make plans to explore the world around you and move, move, move!