Surviving Summer Vacation the Healthy Way

Though you don’t need to schedule every minute of your child’s summer vacation, planning a few mentally and physically enriching activities reduces the likelihood your child will lose academic skills and/or become a summer couch potato.

Start a Garden

Swimming, riding bikes and spending afternoons at the park or playground are staples of summer fun, but they’re not the only enjoyable ways to stay active. Gardening is a great way for families to exercise together while taking pride in a shared accomplishment. Plant a flowerbed, or start your own fruit and vegetable garden. For safe gardening, purchase child-size gardening tools for your little one and wear appropriate clothing—gloves, long-sleeved shirts and long pants, preferably tucked into boots—for protection against insects and sun exposure, in addition to using sunscreen and bug spray.

Instill a Love of Learning

Children are less likely to use academic skills during the summer, which puts them at risk for losing academic knowledge between school years. Visiting museums and zoos fosters opportunities for learning. Most local libraries also have summer reading programs that give children opportunities to peruse many genres and titles, expanding their scope beyond summer reading lists.

Children’s Bedrooms = TV-free Zones

According to a study published in March 2014 in JAMA Pediatrics, 71 percent of children and adolescents between ages 8 and 18 have a television in their bedrooms, which has been linked to weight gain. Keep a greater eye on your child’s TV viewing by moving the television into a shared family space, and adhere to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation of no more than two hours total of television, video games or computer time each day.