Baton Rouge Parents Magazine

10 options for family fun after the school bell rings PDF Print E-mail

The tolling of the school bell marks not just the passage of time but also the opportunity for a great afternoon or evening. After school hours don’t have to be spent just on homework and TV. Make memories instead. Meet the challenges and opportunities of the academic year with gusto by spending some time enjoying one another after the school day ends. Here are ten activities to try after that last bell of the day rings.


1. Get active. It seems the pools and beaches are deserted after school starts in the fall. Make swimming a regular part of your week. If your children aren’t involved in sports teams, or even if they are, investigate ways that your family can exercise together. Bike rides, hikes, or joining the YMCA can be great ways to get fit and spend time as a family.


2. Prepare and enjoy dinner together. Choose one night in your weekly schedule to enjoy supper together. Let your children help you choose the menu (appetizer, main dish, dessert), shop for ingredients, and prepare the meal. Teach the children the proper way to set the table, how to serve a nice meal and how to eat politely. Prepare a list of conversation topics in advance so that you’re not stuck with the inevitable answer to “How was school?” “Fine.” Consult the book, The Surprising Power of Family Meals: How Eating Together Makes Us Smarter, Stronger, Healthier, and Happier by Miriam Weinstein for more on the benefits of eating together.


3. Get everyone on board. Reorganize your game cupboard and find the long-lost board games you forgot you owned. Or check out some new ones. Blokus, Mancala and Rush Hour are great ones to exercise problem solving, logic and thinking skills. If physical games are more your style, a good ole’ fashioned game of Twister will certainly make your children laugh when they see Mom or Dad trying to get in funky positions. Take a stroll through the game aisle at your local store and see what strikes your fancy.

4. Catch a show. Research the bargain theatres in your area. Usually there is a cinema that runs films a few months past their release. You may be the last one to see it, but the movie experience is still fun. Expand your family’s horizons and take in a play, ballet or concert.


5. Spend the afternoon at a museum. Art, science, history, children’s imagination–all can be explored at a museum. Research what’s available within an hour’s drive of home and discover new places and things. Many museums offer reduced rates on certain days of the month, so call ahead or check their website.


6. Park it. While the fair weather holds, enjoy a simple afternoon at the park. Swing on the monkey bars; fly a kite; skip rocks in the lake; be a children with your children.

7. Explore the
outdoors. Check out the local nature center, arboretum or botanical gardens. As the seasons change there will be great beauty to observe. Take pictures and collect specimens, with permission from the park. Create a display of the leaves, cones, flowers and bugs that you find. Search the encyclopedia or the internet so that you can identify and label your collection. Find a way to exhibit your collection at home, such as on a shelf or wall.


8. Talk with the animals. Zoos, aquariums, and petting farms are great places to visit after school. Consult the zoo website for crafts, activity pages and fun information about the critters you’ll see.


9. Serve someone in need. What better family activity than to help others? Chances are you don’t need to look farther than your own block to find someone to care for: the elderly, new moms, or families with loved ones serving overseas. Does your church or synagogue have a ministry to benefit the community? See if you can participate. Contact the local Meals on Wheels to see if your family can sign up to make deliveries. Homeless shelters, food pantries, soup kitchens, children’s hospitals and nursing homes are also great places to volunteer your time and resources. Think about the things your family likes to do and you’re sure to find a way to serve.

10. Check out some great books. Don’t leave library visits just for summer time. Make visiting the library a regular stop in your week. Many branches offer homework help as well as family activity nights, featuring games such as chess. Ask the children’s or young adult’s librarian for their lists of recommended books. Consider reading the same book as your child and discuss it as you go along

Last Updated ( Friday, 28 August 2009 10:54 )

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