7 Social Summer Activities for Kids

kids summer activities
Getty/Paul Bradbury

Early on in the summer, parents, especially those who work from home, can see their kids are running out of things to do around the house. Sure, you can line up lots of summer learning activities and other everyday kids activities, but there is only so much time kids can spend inside the house. After all they have been in a highly structured, highly social environment, that is, school, for most of the year.

Because school is so filled with routine and is such a deeply social environment, the...MORE sudden lack of a routine in summer can make kids to feel adrift. While summer camp or other daily programs can give kids that intense everyday routine like school, they are likely to be limited to a few weeks in the summer. And if you do sign them up for something for every day of every week, kids don’t ever get a break for a school-like routine. Plus, cost can be a limiting factor for many families.

Instead of a daily program, consider a few different weekly programs and activities. These can give kids a sense of routine while still allowing for some badly needed downtime. Also these types of events let kids meet new friends and possibly connect with old ones.

Here are several summer activities—often free or low cost—that can help you build a relaxed summer routine where everyone gets out of the house for some fun.

  • 01 of 08

    Summer Classes

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    Scour the internet or your local paper for kids’ classes, concentrating on the things your kids like most such art, drama, dance, and computer coding. Or you might want to academic subjects like math and science to give your child an edge in the school year. Swim lessons or gymnastics classes can help your child burn some energy as well as enjoy the social and learning aspects of a summer class.

    The fact that classes are just once (or maybe twice) a week gives the kids something to look forward...MORE to and adds structure to the summer. Also some classes may be long enough that a work-at-home parent can wait it out in a nearby coffee shop and get some work done.

    Idea: The kinds of places to find summer classes for kids aren't limited to organizations that only serve kids. An adult pottery studio, for instance,  might offer children's classes in the summer. 

  • 02 of 08

    Sports Teams

    Sign your kids up for summer sports programs. The practices and the games are good for keeping their minds and bodies active as well as kindling social connections. Practices and games may be on the weekends and in the evenings, so these can present less of a conflict for a parent whose work schedule isn't particularly flexible. And all summer long kids will be honing their athletic skills, so that when school starts their performance in school sports will likely improve. 

    Idea: If you have...MORE the yard for it, invite friends and neighbors for some sporting events, like a HORSE tournament or touch football, at your house.

  • 03 of 08

    Theater Performance

    Children's theater

    If your kids aren't the sporting type, consider auditioning a local children's theater company. Like sports there will be regular practices to attend plus time practicing at home. This activity will build in intensity and time commitment all summer, so keep that in mind if you are planning a vacation. The final performance will make for a memorable summer accomplishment. 

    Idea: If some of your kids aren't comfortable in the limelight, they might get involved backstage instead. 

  • 04 of 08

    Rec Center and Library Events

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    Many libraries have weekly story hours and summer reading programs. And your local rec center likely has a wide range of activities all summer. Get a schedule and put events in your calendar at the beginning of the summer. What’s nice about these events is that, unlike sports or classes, you are not committed to attending every week. Also, they are usually free summer activities!

    Idea: Coordinate your attendance with the your kids' friends to add a little more of socializing to the event. 

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Parks

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    Along the same line as libraries and rec center in that they are free and low commitment, many local parks offer events and programs, but these have the added bonus of being outdoors. These could be family-oriented concerts or movies in the early evening, or they could be nature hikes or sports for kids.

    Idea: Also if you live near a state park, it might have a junior naturalist program or something similar. They might be a series of classes or a self-directed program. 

  • 06 of 08

    Museum Events

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    Museums offer deeper learning experiences in the subject matter that they cover in their special events. These are not as likely to be scheduled every week, maybe monthly of sporadically throughout the summer. So again, get these on your calendar so you can plan to take your kids to the events that will inspire them the most. A trip to a museum might be more like a “field trip,” since it might involve a little travel. If you have a particular museum that everyone loves, consider buying a family...MORE membership.

    Idea: For a more memorable field trip, packaged together a museum event with a family picnic or some other activity you can do in the neighborhood of the museum. 

  • 07 of 08

    Volunteering

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    The school year is so busy, it’s hard to find time to give back to your community. The break from homework and that early morning rush out the door that summer may bring gives us an opportunity to do more. If your kids are small it may be more difficult to find volunteering opportunities for them but not impossible. Churches are more likely than many other nonprofits to have service opportunities for kids. Kids organizations like Scouts also will have volunteering opportunities geared at kids....MORE Also don’t overlook the other places you’ve been all summer, e.g. the rec centers, libraries and parks.

    Ideas: Some things kids can volunteer at include neighborhood or park clean-ups, being a Sunday school helper, making sandwiches for organization that provides to the hungry, community art projects, pulling weeds for an elderly neighbor, etc. 

     

  • 08 of 08

     In case 7 social summer activities aren't enough for your family, check out these activities for nearly every day in the summer.