Just because a child is old enough to occupy themselves, doesn’t mean that they should be expected to do so the majority of the time. Host families have a certain expectation of activity and involvement for their children. Get the kids engaged and active. You can be more fun than the TV or a video game.
Problem: But, my kids don’t want to do anything but watch TV or play video games.
Instead of saying, “Would you like to (fill in the blank with any activity)? The answer will often be, “No.”
Try this, “Now we are going to (fill in the blank with any activity.) or “Would you rather do _____ or ______?” Make sure both the choices are good options.
Your chances of co-operation are greatly increased. Even kids who are reluctant to try new things will usually get in the spirit of things and have fun, if you pick a good activity.
Problem: I don’t know what to do with school age kids.
Look for ideas online. Google “activities school age kids” or “activities tweens”. You can also take part in an au pair webinar on this topic. Below is a list of some ideas to get you started.
Making things (check craft stores like Michael’s for kits and models that are age appropriate)
Let them teach you to do something they enjoy. Kids this age love being the expert.
Get outdoors and visit local parks.* You can even make a project of reviewing all the local parks (what kind of equipment they have, is there shade, water fountain?) They can write this up and keep, so they remember which ones they want to go to again and which ones to skip in the future.
Let them help you search and plan some activities.
In honor of Shark Week (see below), next week’s Camp Au Pair theme is Under the Sea.
Crafts, recipes, activities, and games related to creatures who live under the sea can all be found here on the Camp Au Pair – Under the Sea pinboard.
Webcams – You can do a google search for aquariums and zoos across the country (and the world) with webcams that allow you to observe sea creatures. Here is one to get you started.
Television – The Discovery Channel has an annual Shark Week. This year it will be August 9-16, 2020. Much of the programming will be too scary for younger kids, but for nature-loving tweens and teens, it could be a great way to get them interested in sharks and other ocean animals. Check out 15 JAW-some Activities for Shark Week with lots of fun ideas for kids in grades 5 and up, but a few for younger kids too.
Videos – Look for fun videos on YouTube about outer space. Solar System 101 and 25 Space Secrets Astronauts Want You to Know are good for school-aged kids. The Planet Song is for toddlers and preschoolers. WALL-E, Zathura, Monsters vs. Aliens & Star Wars are all great family movies that fit with this theme. For older kids, movies like Hidden Figures and the Martian too, both are rated PG-13.
Books – Stop by your local library and look for books on outer space.
CONTEST FOR AU PAIRS – The first au pair to message Lisa or me with your favorite planet will receive a Starbucks gift card.
When the kids are out of school on summer break there are soooo many possibilities. But, if you don’t make plans, you will often end up in the house with bored kids getting into trouble and arguing with their siblings. Make plans!
Having lots of ideas ready can minimize those problems.
Looking for fun activity ideas to get the summer started off right with your host kids?
The Au Pair in America Summer Fun Pinboard is a great place to start. Together, create a Summer Bucket List. Talk with the kids about things they would like to see and do. Even toddlers and preschoolers can contribute to the conversation. Run these plans by your host parents and clear things like how much you may spend and when is best to do some of these activities.
Check back here next week for information on Camp Au Pair in America: a weekly blog series with themed weeks for the entire summer break.
Videos – You can find many great videos of butterflies and insects on YouTube. Check out these videos for kids about bees and ants. All about Insects covers lots of tiny creatures who crawl and fly. Here is a video showing a Monarch Butterfly metamorphosis time-lapse.
Movies – A Bugs Life, The Bee Movie, Maya the Bee and The Ant Bully all fit this theme.
Webcams – You can do a Google search for websites with webcams that allow you to observe bugs. Here is one from showing life inside a beehive, to get you started.
Books – Stop by your local library and look for books on bugs and butterflies.
Calvert Marine Museum has a Paleontology Exhibit where you can learn about fossils and watch a paleontologist at work.
Videos – Look for fun videos on YouTube about dinosaurs. Dinosaurs for Kids is a great video that explains dinosaur history and what paleontologists do.
The Good Dinosaur, Land Before Time and Ice Age are all great family movies that fit with this theme. For older kids, consider movies like Journey to the Center of the Earth and Jurassic Park (which is rated PG-13).
Books – Stop by your local library and look for books on dinosaurs.