Tips for Keeping Kids Engaged Over Summer Break

Feature story of VOA Alaska’s May 2022 Newsletter. To receive this newsletter and other updates directly to your inbox, sign up here.

Summer is here! Late evening bike rides, backyard barbecues with family and friends, combatting giant mosquitoes—there’s an abundance of activities to enjoy during Alaska’s three month break from winter. But as fun as it can be, summer brings its own unique stressors.

With children out of school, their daily lives are being drastically shifted—it’s a three-month break from a highly structured nine-month routine. It’s exciting but can still present opportunities for stress and anxiety. It may be harder for some children to visit their friends and teens may be working full time or looking after younger siblings.

And then there’s the challenge many of us have: getting enough sleep!

Brian Emory, Administrative Operations Manager, and his children beginning their trek up Bird Ridge.

Signs Your Child May Need Extra Support

Before we dive into how to keep children and teens mentally and physically engaged over the summer, we need to cover what to look for. How can parents and caregivers know if their child is experiencing stress or anxiety and in need of extra support?

The key thing to look for any time of year is changes in behavior that are out of the ordinary. Any parent knows that the moods of their kids can change from moment to moment, but are they acting quieter than usual? Or more irritable than usual?

Common signs can include increased irritability, trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating, withdrawal from social activity, or isolation.

During the school year children have more adults in their lives that may notice these changes. It’s important during the summer to make time to check-in with your kids. Ask them how they are feeling, what they are worried about, and how they are sleeping. Help them develop a routine to provide some stability and structure during their summertime. Encourage them to get out of bed and stay active!

Aaron Osterback, Program Coordinator, practicing archery with his children.

Where to Find Engaging Activities for the Whole Family

One benefit of Alaska’s endless summer days is the endless list of activities available to families! A great place to start is Visit Anchorage’s Summer Bucket List. Bike the Moose Loop, ride the trolley, visit a local museum, explore public art—be a tourist at home!

Ready for a hike or nature walk? Anchorage has over 200 miles of hiking trails and paved multi-use trails for all ages and abilities.

Ready to run? Sign up for one of the many upcoming races in Southcentral and set up a training schedule with your child.

Just want to chow down on local food while jamming to local music and soaking in the sunshine? Check out the Summer Concert Series.

Or peruse Visit Anchorage’s packed calendar of upcoming events, from festivals to food to all manner of fun.

However you choose to spend the summer days, VOA Alaska will be here if your family needs us. To learn how our team empowers youth and families in Alaska with a range of behavioral health and wellness services, visit voaak.org/services or call us at 907-279-9640.

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