By Dinah Whitton

After a long winter, most families look forward to spending time outdoors enjoying local parks and trails. Homeschoolers typically take advantage of having these areas to themselves during the daytime; but, by the end of June it starts getting a little crowded.

When public and private schools are closed, more children are playing outside and packing the playgrounds. Dealing with crowds may be frustrating for homeschoolers, but with a little creativity, your family can still enjoy the outdoors. Here are some tips to help you plan a memorable and stress-free summer break with your family.

Limited Library Time
During the summer most libraries typically have various activities and reward-based reading programs. These initiatives usually increase the traffic in the library, but there are still ways to participate without feeling completely overwhelmed. Check your library’s schedule to determine which day has the most activities to avoid the crowd. If your kids insist on attending a popular day for a special event, be sure to arrive early to secure a good viewing area. Learn more about the library’s summer reading program and schedule one day per week to log hours and/or borrow books.

Library summer reading programs reward kids after they have read a certain amount of books. Be sure to check out HSLDA’s digital library for wholesome ebooks and audiobooks to help your kids add to their reading list.

Book Ahead
No one hates waiting in line more than a homeschooler! Take the proactive approach and book ahead online to avoid long wait lines. Get familiar with the attractions your family would like to visit by browsing their website carefully. Some organizations allow customers to choose the time of their visit and skip the ticket lines by purchasing in advance online. Take note of any popular visiting hours listed on their website or through Google reviews.

Discover Quaint Towns
It’s almost a guarantee that big city museums and attractions will be overly busy every day during the summer break. But, there are so many hidden treasures just outside the city limits waiting for your family. Small villages and rural areas often hold various fairs and festivals perfect for families. Sample local food, rent a canoe or go paddle boating. Sneak in some summer learning by visiting a heritage house to discover the rich history of quaint towns (or even your own town!).

Watch the Weather
Don’t be fooled by cloudy skies! Many people shy away from outdoor activities on overcast days, but this is actually a great time to be outside. Water parks tend to have lower attendance on cloudy days even when the temperature is still high. Try visiting the zoo on cooler days since the animals are often more active when the temperature is lower.

Timing is Everything
Most school-age kids don’t like to get up early if they don’t have to. Take advantage of the late sleepers and maximize your time before noon to explore the outdoors. Arrive early to museums and other attractions so you’re one of the first in line when the doors open. Crowds get bigger as the day progresses. Other outdoor activities like hiking and berry picking are better suited for the morning before it gets too hot.

Bright Colours for Big Crowds
Every parent has experienced that frightful moment when a child seemingly disappears into a sea of people. Even if it’s just for a nanosecond, it’s unsettling to lose sight of your precious one in a crowded area. Consider putting a bright coloured shirt on your children so you can spot them easily. Or try out a tie dye project and get the whole family involved by making customized shirts for your next outing.

Even though there will be more families out and about, there’s no reason why homeschoolers can’t make the most of the summer months. Despite the inevitable crowds, your family can have fun while making amazing memories with some strategic and intentional planning.

Family picnics and BBQs, biking and rollerblading, parks and splash pads, libraries and lounging – the possibilities are endless! Do you have any tips and tricks to beat the crowds and maximize your summer break? Send an email to info@hslda.ca and let us know what your family is up to this summer.

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