The Doctor is In: Session Two – Advice for Parents during Summer 2020

Photo May 15, 3 14 52 PMBefore someone stops reading and says, “But you aren’t a parent, you don’t understand ….” I know that.  I am setting forth this advice, not as a tremendously exhausted, frustrated, scared and depleted parent, but I am saying it as a career educator, youth educator, on-line/virtual learner (Master’s and Doctorate) and on-line instructor.

So many camps (overnight and day camps) have announced they are cancelled for Summer 2020 or at the least significantly delayed in opening.  In the absence of camp, many parents seem to be rushing to find on-line alternatives (some even provided by their beloved camps themselves).  But wait  …



We all have computer fatigue right now. And there is still a chance your kids could start school in the Fall on-line. Do not have them spend their summer in front of the screen. By the time school rolls around they will be so burnt out and over it … beyond unable to engage in learning. You will have a real fight on your hands and your kids will be in the right on this one.

Instead, invest in a lot of outdoor equipment: volleyball nets/balls, tetherball, water games, corn hole, cones, parachutes, hoola hoops, sidewalk chalk, binoculars, flag football sets, sand pits/boxes, water tables, new bikes/trikes (and helmets), basketball hoops, ball pits, nerf balls of all shapes and sizes and sunscreen!  Engage in scavenger hunts, picnics, geocaching, nature walks, bird finds, planting a garden together, engage in outdoor art projects (painting with nature), painting rocks and leaving them around the neighborhood …

If you are working and can’t run “camp” for your kids, find a camp counselor that doesn’t have a job this summer. Hire them with specific and strict health and safety parameters (for when they are working with your kids and for when they are off on their own at home). … but don’t have your kid sit in front of a screen all summer.

Have a teen at home who was supposed to be a CIT/SIT or be in Israel? Think about PROJECT BASED experiences: have them research, plan and plant a garden; build and paint a bench, a storage box or a small shed; they can research and build a little free library for your neighborhood kids; they can paint rocks with motivational sayings and favorite literary quotes and leave them around the neighborhood. Perhaps they can order the materials and make yard signs with warm greetings and place in yards of senior citizens or the home bound.  Lots of volunteer work is still needed – sewing blankets for a shelter or recording audio books for sight impaired.  If your teen is at all politically inclined,  there is a lot of phone banking and postcard writing teens can do for Get Out The Vote or candidate specific.

And yes, they SHOULD connect with their camp communities for a pre-Shabbat sing-along or a Havdallah.  But hours and hours in front of their screens is NOT the answer for Summer 2020.

I am happy to brainstorm with parents on lots of ideas for children of all ages!

P.S. I recognize that not everyone has the financial means nor yard space for all of this … but hopefully it gives everyone some ideas on how to get through summer.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sheri Gropper
    May 18, 2020 @ 00:01:27

    Great outdoor ideas Robyn! As a grandma with an almost 6 and 3 year old, I’m helping to find activities for our little ones with creative, hands on experiences. In addition to using some of the supplies you suggested, we’re creating a fairy garden and are going on nature walks to gather “supplies.” We had an indoor tea party using streamers, blowers, and picnic basket items to set the blanket table. We’re making blanket “forts”, using flashlights for shadow puppets, making obstacle courses, and having fun with bubble wrap “roads”. Thank you for providing a blog to share ideas and resources.


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