Bored No More!

Beat summer boredom! Our tips help you make the most of kid-friendly community resources and more.

Your kids may be pining for summer vacation right now, but once it arrives, it won't take long before the dreaded phrase, Im bored! escapes their lips. Soon, they'll be tired of sleeping in and couch-surfing. But, believe it or not, you don't have to be a magician to keep your kids meaningfully engaged all summer long. Try these tips for taking advantage of the resources around you.

Touch base with teachers and school friends before the year ends. Call your child's teacher and ask for summer activity ideas. Find out what your child needs to work on in order to start off strong in the next grade. What skills and topics will kids be exploring? What did your child have trouble with this past year? What activities did your child enjoy the most? Knowing these things will help you set and achieve summer learning goals that will boost your child's confidence for back-to-school. Also, make sure your child gets the phone numbers of his or her school friends before the last day. Talk to parents about getting your kids together for teacher-approved activities and just plain fun. The more contacts you have, the more play date options you'll have.

Discover new ways to play in familiar places. As much as kids love the beach, the pool and family camping trips, these places can lose their luster without a little variety. For younger children, make a splash with delightful water toys that teach early learning concepts. Get them excited about camping with play sets that put them in charge of everything from the canteen to the nature hike. Let older children discover wildlife on land, sea and air using unique exploring tools.

Take advantage of community resources. Museums and community centers often host summer programs and performances for kids. Get a program schedule from each place. After an event that your child enjoys, ask one of the organizers for related activity ideas you could do at home. Do the same with summer camps: ask a counselor for ideas for adapting their best-loved activities for home play. Also, most public libraries offer a free summer reading club. Sign up, or encourage your child to start his or her own reading club with friends.

Know what kind of games to play with different groups of kids. Challenge kids who are the same age with skill-based games, from board games to card games and electronics. For groups of children of different ages, choose games of chance or strategy games that don't exclude players who haven't yet learned certain skills or facts. It's always nice to have games that feature multiple levels of challenge: younger children can play at lower levels while older kids can play at higher levels. Plus, multi-level games offer kids the opportunity to make the transition from lower-level to higher-level game play over the course of the long summer break. Finally, mat games provide the perfect active play solution for preschool-age children who aren't yet old enough to join summer sports teams like their big brothers and sisters.