Keeping young minds engaged

A summer spent in front of the TV or playing video games doesn’t offer as many benefits for a young people, writes Marie Amos.

Summertime – when the living is easy. School-aged children and youth have completed the school year and will enjoy some well-deserved rest and relaxation. This tends to be satisfying for a few days before the dreaded, “I’m bored” rears its head. The flexible schedule of summer lends itself to a combination of child-led imaginative playtime and structured activities. Balance between structure and freedom is important for all kids and youth. A summer spent in front of the TV or playing video games doesn’t offer as many benefits for a young person’s physical and mental health as going out and engaging with the world.

Sitting down for a family brainstorming session and filling a jar with ideas for activities can be a great way to ward off the summer doldrums. These ideas could range from doing jigsaw puzzles, to drawing with chalk on the driveway, to helping a neighbour with weeding, or organizing the sock drawer. For youngsters who want to be out and about, our city and surrounding area have some great summertime activities.

We live in an area with a tremendous selection of lakes to swim in and hills to climb. Everyone has a preference. Your age and physical fitness will likely dictate your choice for hikes, and if transportation is a factor, there’s a Chilliwack public bus that runs all the way to Cultus Lake. In anticipation of all the water-related activities summer offers, our local YMCA is offering a free water safety course (until the end of June) that is free to all 3-12 year olds. For specifics, please go to www.vanymca.org.

The local Youth Services offers a variety of activities over the course of the summer for youth aged 12-18. These activities are free (and lunch is included), but pre-registration is required. See the Community Services website (www.comserve.bc.ca) for more information. Community Services also has a list of volunteer opportunities available in the community.

The Chilliwack Arts Council offers a wide variety of classes and activities for young children and youth over the summer. These programs have fees associated with them, but are a great opportunity to develop new skills (https://chilliwackartscouncil.com/).

The Fraser Valley Regional Library has an array of summer initiatives aimed at various age groups (see www.fvrl.bc.ca/ for their summer activities guide). Setting family or individual goals for summer reading is a great way to spur on literacy skills. As Jackie Kennedy Onassis said, “There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.”

Many faith-based communities also offer summer programs and camps in our community. Ask a neighbour or contact a local church for more information. Whatever activities your family decides to participate in this summer, make sure there is space for running around and exercising the imagination, too. Summer is a great time to develop a slower rhythm and to enjoy a mix of relaxation and activities.

 

Marie Amos, MA, is a Clinician with Child and Youth Mental Health, Chilliwack.