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Barbara Alvarez Headshot

Summertime and the Kids Will Soon be Out of School! What's a Parent to Do?

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It's May, the weather is getting warmer (or it's already downright hot) and your children are itching for that last day of school, but you... not so much. While your kiddos are anticipating lazy days by the pool, playing with each other, you are dreading the last day of classes. When they're in school, you know where they are and what they're doing.

When summer starts, all that changes. You have to find new arrangements for them, so they are occupied with some kind of positive activity. At the very least, you want to know that they are being safely cared for and supervised while you and your spouse are at work.

On the flip side of the coin, your kids just want to sleep in until the crack of noon... HAH! They want to lounge around in front of the television playing video games, watching movies or running wild in the neighborhood. If the thought of that gives you chills up and down your spine, don't panic! Here are some ideas that will keep both parent and child happy:

1. Summertime Activities
Time may have gotten away from you. You and your spouse thought about summertime activities for your kiddos -- in January. Now, it's May and school is out at the end of the month. If you're lucky, it's out in June.

Your community should have several programs that your children could participate in. Some programs may be free and you may need to pay to enroll your children in other programs. Sit down and let's get started.

2. Gym Camp Programs
If your community has a children's gym, such as Gym Magic in Las Cruces, New Mexico, your kids will have fun and you'll rest a little easier. You'll know they are being given the opportunity to learn something they may not have time for during the school year. The program does charge a fee (weekly or per child). Best of all, you have the option of choosing the morning program, the afternoon program -- or the full-day program.

Some gym camps offer theme programs. Gym Magic offers a Lego, Nerf or Disney camp. These are shorter programs, running three to five days.

3. Learn Something New
Check with your city or community and see if you can sign your children up for a kid's learning program. These programs don't have to be the traditional "Oh, I flunked a class and have to take summer school" offering.

Instead, you could find classes for kids up to 12, 13 or 14. If you have a community college in your city, your kids might want to sign up for classes in astronomy, drawing, painting or learning magic. These classes will cost you a fee, but isn't it worth it to know they are learning and having fun in a safe place? Caveat: The instructors won't babysit your kids. They are there to teach a classroom full of eager and not-so-eager students.

4. Day Camps
These are camps where children go to the camp in the morning, then go home at the end of the day. They'll be able to have fun and learn a new activity while you're at work. At night, you'll get to talk with them about, "Guess what, mom? We learned about the const... consp... uh, the stars that form pictures in the sky today! I got to see the Big Dipper!" That's when you realize your sweetie is talking about the constellations and you get pulled into a lively conversation. When your kids are off playing outside and you're cleaning up from dinner, you'll realize, "Hey, they're learning and having fun!"

5. Activities Sponsored by Your Community
Maybe your kids are interested in learning cheer, gymnastics or tumbling. Are they mini-environmentalists? Your city may offer programs for kids in eco-engineering. If your child is a budding Sandra Bullock, maybe she'd enjoy attending a drama camp.

Your goal, mom and dad, is to make sure that, during the summer, your kids don't imitate lifeless couch potatoes. While some programs will cost money, in the end, your kiddos will benefit. They'll meet other kids, learn something new and they'll have fun! At the end of the summer, they're going to look at you and say, "Aww, mom, I don't want the summer to end! I'm having too much fun." Isn't that your goal?