- Be sure that kids dress appropriately in light, loose clothing (for young sisters wearing Hijab, keep the scarves light colored and light weight).
- Ensure that children dress modestly. Not only will this make it easier for them to adhere to modest styles of dress as they get older, but it will also protect them from harmful UV rays. (Contrary to popular belief, light colored, loose fitting clothing which reflects heat is far more conducive to keeping cool then bare legs and bare arms which take in direct heat from the sun on a warm day.)
- Sun block for faces, hands and arms is very important to prevent health problems in the future. Avoid chemical sun-blocks if possible. Keep it natural. There are a wide variety of herbal sun-blocks available derived from organic sources which work well and smell better than commercial brands. Check into specialty shops that carry herbal products.
Staying Active – Having Fun
- You can't go wrong with sports activities. Put up a hoop for basketball or suggest the kids get active with skipping, tag, racing, baseball, soccer or swimming. Always emphasize the fun and not the competition. (Just keep a juice jug or a cold water pitcher always topped up in the fridge!)
Bikes, Blades and Boards
- What a car is to an adult, a bike is to a child. Bicycles, roller-blades (or roller-skates) and skateboards are far more than transportation. They represent freedom and independence. Along with being a great form of fun exercise, let bikes also be a lesson in responsibility as you urge your children to care for and maintain their vehicles properly.
- Make sure that kids have the appropriate safety apparel for these simple, yet potentially dangerous, vehicles. Helmets, knee pads and elbow pads are all far less expensive than trips to the hospital because of broken limbs or severer head injuries. (Brain injuries are among the main causes of epilepsy in children and adults. Head protection should not be taken lightly. When it comes to bike safety, fashion should take a back seat.)
- Help them to be aware of traffic rules and bicycle etiquette (Walking their bikes across the street or when passing pedestrians on sidewalks instead of riding ).
Bike Wash Day
- Pick a hot day each week to have 'Bike Washing Day' where kids spruce up their bikes, polishing the chrome and hosing off the mud. This gives kids an excuse to have a bit of fun with cold water – see which ends up getting the most wet – the bicycles or the kids! (As tempting as a garden hose might be for summer splashing, fill small buckets or containers instead to avoid water from being wasted. Watch local news papers or check local radio reports for area watering bans. Some cities put restrictions during hot summer months on how much water can be used for lawn care and property maintenance. If a watering ban is in effect in your area, you might want to hold off on this activity until reservoir levels are higher.)
Creative Bike Construction
- For teenage kids, suggest they buy old bicycles in working condition (sometimes you can find used bicycles for as little as $2.00 at garage sales, rummage sales or yard sales) then use simple tools to rearrange the bike parts and design a one-of-a-kind creation. (Imagine: Ten speed handle bars, with a banana seat, Mountain Bike forks and touring bike frame. Definitely make sure bike helmets are worn with this activity!)
Let It Rain!
- Children don't melt in the rain! In fact, neither do adults! Provide them with plenty of outdoor time and don't be scared to join them. Puddle splashing is fun in a downpour and all it costs is the time to dry your clothes. Take advantage of powerful rainstorms. Let the kids laugh it up with you in the rain for a little while – they will talk about it for the rest of the summer! (It is also a very humbling to be drenched to the bone with the power of Allah's rain.)
- One great form of exercise is walking! (Or 'Wheeling', for kids who may use wheelchairs.) Inexpensive places to walk (or 'Wheel') – regardless of the weather – grocery shopping, public library, local museums, playgrounds, parks
Head For The sky!
- Go fly a kite! (If you don't have one, make one!)
This Is For The Birds!
- Challenge kids to learn the names of at least five different birds, common to North America, and recognize them by their appearance and calls.
- Build a simple bird-feeder to hang in the yard or on a balcony in a shady spot. Enjoy hours of fun sitting to watch the birds snack during the day. (Makes for a nice lesson in Sadaqa.)
Head For The Open Road!
- Drive the family out into the countryside and try to get lost on some unfamiliar roads, challenging the kids to help remember the way home. (Always keep a pay-phone quarter, a map and a bag of sweets in the glove box – just in case!)
- Take a family walk out on a country road for little while. Pack a picnic lunch, prayer mats and a water jug for Wudu. Moo at cows in a field or give Salaams to a flock of sheep – an honest sense of silly humor will help keep a light mood in the family during the long summer break.
Watch Them Grow!
- Get the kids involved in neighborhood clean up programs, inner city garden planting projects or empty lot beautification programs
- Have them grow herbs or vegetables in the yard or on the balcony and take responsibility for the living plants they nurture. Watch their enjoyment as they wash vegetables from their garden for a family meal!
- Take a rainy day trip to a local plant nursery to enjoy looking at Allah's beautiful array of plant creations at different stages of growth.
- Kids change and grow daily. Sometimes we get so close to our children that we miss the beauty of their development. Parents! Take some time to just sit quietly and watch your children playing, eating, coloring, running or even sleeping. Try to look at them as individuals, not just 'your kids' – you'll be surprised at who you might meet. (You may also be surprised to see a great deal of your own behavior in theirs.) Thank Allah for bringing them into your life.
Family Duties And Trust
- Get them involved in family chores and tasks – DO NOT go at it in a way that suggests they are working, but rather, let them know you trust them and give them tasks that demonstrate that trust, depending on their age and ability of course. Never underestimate your child's capabilities.
Summer Camp Ideas
- Have your children involved in a regular extracurricular activity with other children. There are plenty of day camps with a wide array of focuses available in most localities. (Islamic camps, Sports camps, Computer camps, Arts camps.) Thoroughly research the camp yourself to ensure that it will be well run and that children will be properly supervised. Many well-meaning individuals have attempted to organize day camps without proper knowledge of how to see to the safety, comfort and fun of the children who attend. It is better to keep your children at home than to send then to a camp that will jeopardize their safety or their comfort. Islamic camps are no different: Ensure that instructors are qualified and able to deal with the children in an appropriate matter. If Islamic teachings are not taught in a balanced fashion or shoved too vigorously at a child, more harm could be caused to the child's faith than good.
Volunteering: A Great Way To Grow
- Suggest that your adolescent volunteer once a week at a retirement residence or at a hospital for sick children, helping to serve lunches or read to patients.
Photo Attribution - Helen Wilkinson - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tents_-_geograph.org.uk_-_506675.jpg