By: Cassie Van Der Hyde
It’s nearly the end of the school year, somehow, despite the endless snow days that have accrued during this past weird winter. While my friends and coworkers are lamenting that they will soon have their kids home all day long and will have to keep them occupied all those hours, I always like to remind them that mine are home all day long… every day… all year. This is Real Homeschool Talk here! I could go on and on about finding extracurriculars and constructive activities to occupy my kids during the weekdays of the school year, but now that school is ending, all parents–public, private, and homeschooling–are in the same boat. We’re in this together, guys!
Let’s talk a little about beyond the playing outside in the yard, going to the park, summer sports leagues stuff, here.
During the sunny days, I’m going to be taking my kids to all the free stuff I possibly can. We are steadfast attendees of the Free Fun for Kids series that the Lowell Summer Music Series puts on twice a week in the mornings at Boarding House Park. Bring a donation if you want to and enjoy keeping your little gremlins busy with a craft, snacks, and a show. My kids look forward to this every summer, and while it’s mostly geared towards the younger set, even my nine year old has a lot of fun. On the inclement-weather days, they move it to the local high school auditorium, so don’t stay home and miss it if it seems a little too hot or a little too rainy outside.
Another mostly free fun thing we do is to check out the Junior Ranger programs at all the national parks in the area. We go to the indoor exhibits on the yucky days and outdoor ones on the sunny. Every program is different, and some are just workbooklets and a pencil that kids can use to earn a badge and be sworn in as a Junior Ranger, but they’re all fun. Our favorite local-ish program, so far, has been Saugus Iron Works. We were in the area to pick up some donuts at Kane’s (not free, but also highly recommended! Yum!!!) so we decided to make a pit stop and check it out. It was free and totally amazing! The kids got to sign out little backpacks full of ranger supplies like notepads, colored pencils, binoculars, and magnifying glasses and use them to answer questions and make observations about the wildlife at the park. I’ve never had such quiet, intensely focused kids as during those few hours there.
For the draggy rainy gross days, we make lots (and I mean lots) of library trips. Max out all your tax dollars, parents! There are so many free kids programs at the libraries. We love Pollard, Parker, Chelmsford, and Nevins! Some of them require a sign-up but many of the summer activities are drop-ins such as the reading olympics at the Parker Memorial Library. Kids read 15 minutes a day, get their little paper stamped, and pick out a prize every week. Super easy and sneaky-educational!
Don’t waste away the summer listening to the kids telling you they’re bored and making endless trips to the same two playgrounds. Try something new, engage those little brains just a bit in the off-season, and maybe you’ll save your own sanity too!