By Lisa Dion, LPC, RPT-S

For many children, summer is the most enticing of all seasons. Sure, winter has snowmen, holiday presents, and sledding, but summer has no school. And that, quite frankly, is hard to top.

As welcoming as summer is, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows – sometimes you must weather other storms. Boredom, in particular, is something that tends to rear its head as the weeks creep on. Children may find themselves under stimulated or tired of doing the same activity day after day.

Parents can’t always solve this problem – summer is a long season (especially when you’re young) and getting down on downtime is often inevitable.

But, while a quick fix or a long-term solution might not be possible, there are ways to mend the monotony.

So, what kinds of out of the box ideas help keep your child enthused and excited? Try one of the following:

Babysitter certification: If you’re a parent of preteens or teens, classes in childcare training make for a practical way to pass the time. These classes set your children up for a chance to earn their own money and further explore the world of responsibility. Kids who take these courses learn CPR, first aid, and other relevant training. They’re also more likely to be hired than kids who don’t have hands-on skills.

Start a book club: The summer slide isn’t just a scheme concocted by evil librarians hoping to manipulate children into reading during their time away from school – it’s a real thing! Starting a kid-friendly book club is an excellent way to encourage your child to read. A discussion of what they’ve read also helps foster critical thinking skills.

Have a weekly bike parade: The excitement, the colors, the fanfare – it’s not hard to like parades! But these types of events aren’t commonplace – their occurrence is limited to holidays and other special times. A bike parade, on the other hand, is something that doesn’t require a city permit. Break out the flags, signs, and streamers and encourage your kids and neighbors to ride around the block on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Don’t forget to gather the parents to cheer them on.

Organize a neighborhood toy swap: Do you ever notice that your child seems to enjoy playing with other kids’ toys more than their own? That’s a song sung by many a parent. It’s also something that a toy swap can resolve. Invite local kids to come over with toys they’re ready to party with. Then let them pick out a “new” toy to take home.

Start a neighborhood paper: One way to avoid the summer slide mentioned above is through stimulation of the mind. Reading does this, naturally, but writing does as well. If your children are old enough, encourage them to start a neighborhood paper filled with kid-centric things. They can even interview their peers. Picture the headline now: Local Five-Year-Old Ditches Training Wheels for Good.

Summer is long and flies by, kind of at the same time. The above ideas bring something new to the water table.