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5 Summer Activities to Boost Your Kids’ Independence (Plus 2 Tips for YOU!)

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Read Time: 4 minutes

5 Tips to Boost Your Kids’ Independence this Summer — and 2 Tips to Help You Actually Let Them, by Laura Haver

Summer is moments away! That means sunshine, the smell of green grass – or melting asphalt — and more free time. To make the most of it, encourage your kids to play on their own!

YOU’LL get more free time, THEY’LL get more independent.

Here are five fun, real-world, kid-approved activities from my book, and a bit of advice on how to let go and let grow.

1- Art Ding Dong Ditch

Remember playing Ding Dong Ditch? Art Ding Dong Ditch is a modified version. I’ve heard from several readers that their kids love drawing up some art and then dashing around the neighborhood, leaving it “ding dong ditch style” at neighbors’ doors. This game gives kids a mission and invites them to run around, hopefully brightening the neighbors’ days as well.

Or they can make Happy Day Baskets: Find or fashion baskets and fill them with flowers (real or homemade) or some kind of treat, then deliver them. If it’s pouring, or the neighborhood isn’t safe, or no one lives nearby, kids can deliver these to their family members’ bedroom doors. Who doesn’t love getting a basket?

2-Obstacle Course

Send them out to make an Obstacle Course! All they have to do is gather whatever materials they can find, from sports gear to sticks, and turn them into a wild path of some sort. They may – or may not – want you to run through it, too.

3- Chores Olympics

With the Olympics coming up, it’s the perfect time for your kids compete in their very own Chores Olympics. They can create events like Laundry Folding with variations, like who can make the tallest pile of folded shirts without falling over, who can hang the most shirts on hangers, or who can properly put away clean clothes the fastest! Works for dusting and sweeping too. They can even hold Opening and Closing Ceremonies and make and give out medals.

Bonus options include working together as a country or team.

4- Reading in a Fort

Kids love building forts. Remind them of this! They can use the traditional outdoor materials, or let them take things outside that can get dirty (a ratty blanket, for instance). Do NOT forget cardboard boxes! And voila: a cozy, shady place to read or hang out.

5- More Independent Games

Make Your Own Puzzle – Got cardboard? Scissors? Done!

Make Your Own Gameboards – Got cardboard? Magic markers? Someone to play the game with? Done.

Re-Create Your Favorite Video Game- This one’s especially great for getting kids off the screen: remind them they can bring their favorite video games to life in 3D!

And of course, the Let Grow Independence Challenge is coming up in August: You let your kids choose something new THEY want to do on their own and then…you let them do it. Snap a picture and send it to Let Grow. Details later this summer.

2 Tips to Help Parents Let Go / Let Grow

Sometimes the hardest part of letting kids be more independent is more on the adult side. So:

1: Do practice runs! I’m a former junior tennis coach. When teaching my students something new, I’d always begin with the fundamentals. I’d show them the proper grip, stroke, footwork, etc. Then I’d give them lots of opportunities to practice.

The same goes for giving our kids more independence. First, we have to teach them the basic skills. What do they need to know before biking to their friend’s house on their own, using a knife, or walking to the store? Go over this together. And remember: it’s totally okay for them to mess up a bit and/or run into challenges along the way! They key is to let them figure out how to solve these. Growth!

And by the way, it’s totally normal for YOU to feel nervous when THEY’RE doing something new. Think about what you’ve done to lay the groundwork, take a deep calming breath…and read Tip 2!

2: Think about the big picture! Even though it can be nerve-wracking to send your kids off on their own to a friend’s, the park, or the mall — that is the whole point: Getting to a new stage of independence.

Your child might be feeling the same way, so do your best to model calmness and confidence. And then? Watch your kids step forward into a new chapter. This makes for a marvelous summer.

Want more game ideas? Get My  book, Play Together, here.

Laura Haver is a play expert, author, speaker and coach. She is on a mission to inspire people of all ages to live playful, vibrant and fulfilling lives. She lives in San Diego with her family where you can find them on the beach and playing around town! Want more fun in you and your families’ lives? Visit to check out her playful offerings and gifts.

Ready for more play in your life? Grab Laura’s free Playlist Planner here.

Laura Haver

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