Keep Your Child Healthy and Active Over Summer Break

4 min to read
A mother playing basketball with her two sons.

The transition into summer is often exciting for children but can present unique challenges. Without classes, they must find new ways to occupy their time. Often, it’s easy for kids to sit in front of the TV or another screen and spend all summer bingeing shows or playing video games.  

Instead, there are immense benefits to helping your child stay healthy and active, all summer long. Discover kid exercises for summer, including free and low-cost activities outside and at home.

Why is it Important to Keep Your Child Active Over the Summer?

Regular physical activity presents a surplus of benefits for children, including warding off common illnesses, supporting muscle and bone development, and reducing symptoms tied to anxiety and depression. 

According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, children aged 6-17 should engage in at least an hour of physical activity daily. Getting active this summer is a great way to build healthy habits that carry over into the school year. 

Develop a Daily Schedule Incorporating Physical Activity

Shifting into summer, your child loses much of the consistency typically present during the school year. The first step to enjoying summer activities for kids at home is building an accessible, age-appropriate routine. By creating a daily schedule and posting it somewhere your child can see, you’ll return that sense of consistency and help them build autonomy.  

Work together to decide how your student will spend their flexible time by offering a few options and letting them select one. For younger children, consider reviewing the day’s plan each morning.

A parent helping her child roller skate as a summer activity for kids.

Offer Healthy Snack Options

Boredom can drive excess snacking, particularly for a child spending their days at home within easy reach of tempting food options. While incorporating snack times into their daily schedule can help set boundaries for when snacks are available, it will also help to offer healthy choices your child can select when they’re feeling hungry. 

Healthy snacks should keep your child full while giving them energy and nutrition. Great snacks will have protein and fiber while avoiding excess artificial ingredients. A few options you may consider keeping around the house include: 

  • Single-serving yogurt with fruit 

  • Vegetables and dip, such as carrots and ranch or celery and peanut butter 

  • Nuts and trail mix (watch for potential allergens) 

  • Cheese and crackers  

  • Oatmeal with fruit

A fun summer activity for kids at home is allowing them to help with meal planning and preparation. Spend time discussing what a healthy diet is, including important vitamins and nutrients they need. Then, work together to brainstorm healthy meal ideas. Depending on your child’s age, they can help you shop for ingredients and prepare the meal. Both activities are great ways to incorporate math and planning skills into real-world scenarios. 

Consider Getting Active Together

Your child may be inspired to get active if you do so alongside them. Plus, it’s a fantastic opportunity for you to bond. Explore activities that you both enjoy and create a plan to do them together. 

Plan activities that are age appropriate. If you're focused on cardio or weightlifting, that’s great, but your child won’t be able to match exactly what you do. Instead, you can use Tabata timing, where you do an activity for 20 seconds, then take a 10-second rest. While you rest, your child can do the exercise for 10 seconds, then relax while you exercise. 

Alternatively, you can use the age rule. If you plan to do twenty burpees, have your child repeat the exercise as many times as they are years old. For example, an eight-year-old would do eight burpees, while their younger sibling would do six to align with their age. 

There will be some days that you don’t want to be active, and the same goes for your child. By committing to being active together, you’ll hold each other accountable while spending quality time and building healthy habits to last a lifetime.  

Free Outdoors Activities for Kids

There are many free summer activities for kids, accessible to children of all ages and ability levels. Depending on where you’re located, it may be easy to let your child play in the backyard. If you have the space, consider setting up a sprinkler on particularly hot days. This is a fun activity for kids of all ages, and a wonderful way to cool off! 

If your family doesn’t have a backyard, consider finding a local park where your child can play. Often, local schools have playgrounds that are free and accessible during the summer. Meanwhile, many state parks offer accessible scenic hikes perfect for the whole family. 

For children with disabilities, finding free activities that meet their needs can be slightly more challenging. However, you may be surprised to find accessible playgrounds and gyms in your area. 

Get Active Indoors

Depending on where you live, inclement weather or lack of access to safe outdoor spaces may keep your kids on the couch. Don’t worry — there are still many summer activities for kids at home you can implement at no cost. 

Create an obstacle course.

Set up an obstacle course using couch cushions and various household objects. Determine the rules for your course, then encourage your child to race through! Time their attempt and encourage them to break their own record.

A parent and child practicing yoga.

Put on a workout video. 

The internet has expanded access to tons of free summer activities for kids at home. With a quick search, it’s easy to find various workout options that meet your goals and your child’s age-specific needs. 

Pump up the tunes for a dance party.

Music is a great motivator for inspiring movement! Turn on some high-energy, kid-friendly songs to get your child grooving to the beat. Dance parties are also a great way to create short breaks between activities.  

Discover Local Activities & Classes 

Over the summer, many children don’t get to see their friends as often, which can leave them craving social interaction with non-adults. In addition to being a fun way to get active and learn something new, local recreation classes are a great opportunity to interact with other children their age. 

Many towns have local recreation classes that are low- or no-cost, allowing your child to enjoy the fun of summer camp activities for kids, without attending a formal summer camp.  

If you are a resident of the town you’re spending the summer in, consider taking advantage of free passes from the library. Many library systems offer museum and zoo passes that you can check out at no cost. Wandering a museum or zoo is a fantastic opportunity to pair fun learning with low-impact physical activity like walking. 

Helping your child stay active and healthy over summer break is an excellent way to build healthy habits that will last a lifetime while keeping them busy and entertained. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different activities to find what holds your child’s interest best. 

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