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Summer is finally here and school is out. Your school ager is ready for a much needed break from the homework and schedules of school. However, it is important to keep in mind that families play a major role in motivating children to continue reading during these summer months. There are many ways to keep your child interested in reading, it doesn’t always have to be about reading a certain number of pages a day or books a week. It’s summer, so keep it fun and interesting.

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  • Combine books with activities. If you’re travelling to a new city, going to the zoo or sporting event, head to the library and get some books to read about that activity.
  • Have a variety of reading materials around. Newspapers or age appropriate magazines can bring a new interest to reading for your child.
  • If your child loves movies, it might interest him to read the books based on his favorite movies.
  • Visit a comic book shop. Your child may enjoy having the picture sequences and written text or it might inspire them to create their own comic book over the summer.
  • Keep in touch with relatives or friends through post cards, letters or e-mails on a regular basis or with a particular pen pal each week.
  • To avoid summer boredom, get books that teach your child how to make or do something. They can get some reading time in and learn a new fun activity or hobby.
  • Check out your local library as many have fun summer reading programs and this can also be a great time to get your child their own library card.
  • If your child likes to help you cook, have them look for recipes in cookbooks, magazines or online.
  • Be a reading role model. When children see adults reading they can understand that reading can be an interesting, important and enjoyable part of your day.

It’s no secret that kids benefit from playing outdoors, and the Wisconsin summer is a beautiful time to get outside. Here are 10 engaging activities to take the fun to nature.

Activities With Water

  • Practice baseball with water balloons  - Test your child’s hand-eye coordination with an explosive result by tossing the water balloon to be hit with a wiffle ball bat. Play catch with the balloons and take a step back each time the balloon is caught.

Activities With STEM

  • Go on a science scavenger hunt - Keep STEM at the forefront of young minds in summer by embarking on a scavenger hunt through nature. Search for outdoor critters, animal tracks, and different types of leaves. Download your own checklist for free, or create your own list custom to your backyard!
  • Stack stones - Rock balancing uses basic engineering skills to teach kids how to stack rocks of different sizes and shapes. Children will learn how to build strong foundations, and challenge themselves to see how high the stones can stack. To add a cultural lesson, teach children the history of stone cairns to build landmarks, memorials, and more.
  • Build a toy raft - Use sticks and other backyard supplies to build a raft that floats. This science experiment will encourage your child to question how best to complete the project, testing weight, sails, speeds, and more.
  • Create a solar still - A solar still can purify water by using the sun to evaporate the water before being cooled and collected. This STEAM activity takes full advantage of the sun to serve as a hands-on science experiment about the lifecycle of water.

Activities In Wisconsin

  • Hunt for trolls in Mount Horeb - Mount Horeb is a small town known for its Norwegian trolls. Filled with petting zoos, parks, shopping, and festivals the small town charm is sure to please the whole family.
  • Stroll through the gardens in Janesville - Enjoy a stroll through the gardens with a story at Rotary Botanical Gardens. This event is perfect for younger children and their caregivers, but that’s not al. All ages will love the Giant Aquarium on display through October or the Pixie Spy Packs, which include scavenger hunts, I Spy games, and more.
  • Hike Parfrey’s Glen - Use your natural science skills to hike Wisconsin’s first State Natural Area, found in Merrimac. With its high walls and waterfall, the wooded trail is a summer hot spot and perfect for showing children the natural beauty of Wisconsin.

Follow 4-C on social media for more tips on getting children excited to go outdoors and learn.

Making mistakes in parenting is a part of the experience. Parents are human; no one can be expected to be flawless. The process of raising young children is no exception. We all make mistakes but it is how we respond to those mistakes that really shows our true character.

The amazing part about making mistakes in parenting is that it provides an opportunity to model for children how to behave in the aftermath. Modeling appropriate ways of handling mistakes shows children that we are all human, prone to making mistakes and capable of accepting responsibility.

  • Label and validate feelings: Try saying aloud how you are feeling. “I just made the biggest mistake and I feel lousy!” or “I’m feeling really badly that I did something I didn’t mean to.” When children see adults talking about their feelings it normalizes the process and helps them to feel less isolated in their own experiences. Likewise, giving validation to feelings aids in the process of healing and moving beyond the uncomfortable feelings that making mistakes might bring.
  • Accept responsibility: Being accountable for your actions shows those around you that you acknowledge that you have messed up and you recognize it. Taking responsibility for our actions, good or bad, shows children that we are autonomous and others are not responsible for our feelings.
  • Do the repair work: If you hurt someone’s feelings or took misplaced anger or frustration out on another person, be sure to do the repair work as soon as possible. Doing repair work in your relationships (not just with your children!) can make all the difference in the world in building lasting trust. When we step up and apologize, it is an act of love.
  • Be kind to yourself: Beating yourself up for making mistakes is not in the service of healing and can be quite damaging to your self-esteem. Use kind words with yourself when you make mistakes. Observe the internal language you use with yourself. Is it negative? Are you shaming and blaming, or are you forgiving and accepting? If you observe negative self-talk, try the affirmation, “I am doing the best I can.” Talk to yourself with the same kindness you might use with a close friend or your children.
  • Pledge to do better: If the mistake you have made affected people around you, make a pledge to yourself and those people to do better. Saying “I know I made this mistake, but I will do better” can be not only a way to acknowledge the mistake made, but a commitment to trying to do better in the future and a way to reassure people around you that you are trying your best.

Remember to forgive yourself along the way; parenting (and life!) is hard work that requires practice.

Spend the summer keeping the kids busy and bonding with these family-friendly activities right here in Southern Wisconsin. Make sure you’re properly trained in first aid for supervising children by taking a First Aid or CPR class with 4-C this summer.

Explore Local State Parks

Introduce your family to relaxing hiking trails with leisurely strolls among the beautiful Wisconsin scenery. Badger State Trail starts in Madison and winds south into Illinois, but the highlight will have your kids’ eyes wide: the 1,200-foot-long Steward Tunnel. Wyalusing State Park has 9 different trails that explore woods, waterfalls, Native American effigy mounds, and wildlife. This park is one of the state’s oldest and holds Treasure Cave, a limestone cavern kids love to explore.

Wisconsin Museums and Zoos

Wisconsin has museums and zoos aplenty. The Madison Children’s Museum has 6 hands-on exhibits and has a focus on learning through play. In Milwaukee, the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum lets the kids lead the way to showing adults the profound impact of children’s learning. The Milwaukee Public Museum is one of the largest in the country and offers a wide variety of topics in a stimulating environment for learning. Free to all, the Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison offers a petting zoo in the summer, and the Children’s Zoo on the south side of the zoo. The Milwaukee County Zoo features over 2,500 animals and is considered one of the finest in the country.

Water Parks and Activities

Water parks are easy to find in the Dells, like Noah’s Ark (America’s largest water park) and Kalahari Resort. If natural bodies of water are more your thing, the Lower Wisconsin River has diverse wildlife and scenic views. Teach the family to fish, work together to kayak down the river, or relax in a tube down the current. Make sure you’re doing all you can to prevent drowning by taking a CPR or First Aid class with 4-C this summer. Check our upcoming events calendar to find a training opportunity.

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