Summer Programs for Kids that Won’t Cost Much
While children are busy counting down the days until summer finally gets here, many parents are worrying about how to keep their children busy over the break without breaking the bank. It’s important that children don’t become too complacent over the summer. While downtime is certainly needed, children need stimulation to actively engage their brains and keep them busy and thriving.
Although there are countless pricey alternatives available, it’s not necessary to spend a fortune sending your kids to a different camp or program every week. Here are some free and low-cost suggestions to keep your kids occupied, having fun, and saving you money.
Public libraries are a wealth of summertime fun. Most offer various reading groups for children of all ages, and many have activities that accompany them. The programming is usually free, and your kids can attend as often as they want. There is no required fee or obligation, only a library card is needed, which is free of charge. Additionally, most libraries now offer videos, DVDs, CDs, and books on tape in addition to the traditional books available to check out weekly. Your children will love to meet new friends, explore different media, and enjoy new story adventures every week.
Kids Cooking Club
Get together with other parents in your neighborhood and start a kids cooking club. On a rotating weekly basis, have different parents host a group of kids and create a fun, kid-friendly recipe. Not only will your kids have a blast in the kitchen together, they’ll be learning an important life skill and keeping busy. Your only expense will be the ingredients when it’s your turn to host. If you have a group of six kids, you’ll likely only host once or twice over the duration of the summer, but your child will have multiple fun-filled afternoons.
Many national theater chains offer free children’s movies during the summer months. They are generally movies from the previous season instead of brand new releases, but all are appropriate for young audiences and many are crowd favorites. Check with your local theaters for movie schedules and screening times. Plan on staying with your child as most do not allow drop offs. Consider creating a neighborhood group (much like the cooking club) where a different parent escorts a group of children each week. This allows you to have your children occupied for several mornings over the summer while you are free to work or run errands (or take a nap!), with the exception of your week to host.
Vacation Bible School
Your city likely has a variety of local churches of varying denominations and faiths. Most of these offer some sort of vacation bible school, and churches generally try to schedule their bible school around other churches’ schedules and themed programming. Find the ones that support your faith, and with proper planning you could ideally find a different bible school every week or month without repeating the same theme. These programs are generally free or have a minimal cost, and they provide the opportunity to meet new friends, learn valuable lessons, create artwork, and share a new snack.
Public Parks and SplashPads
While we’re all familiar with the traditional public park, everyone may not be aware of the latest trend in free, outdoor fun. Lots of parks are updating and including a mini-waterpark or splash pad among the traditional play equipment found at a park. Research the parks around you to find what they offer, then pack a picnic, grab some towels, and head off for an afternoon of free, wet fun!
Keep your summer relaxed and stress-free. With a little pre-planning, you can assure your children will have a fun-filled summer without spending a small fortune to do so. You’ll fight off the summer doldrums, keep your kids actively engaged in activities, and save some money while doing it.
Cassie Brewer lives in Southern California. In her free time, she enjoys writing about her passion (healthy living of course!). Nothing makes her happier than helping other be the best version of themselves they can be. You can follow her on twitter @Cassiembrewer
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