Most kids can’t wait until the end of the school year. They look forward to the long, lazy days of summer when they don’t have any school work to do.
However, parents might dread summer as they struggle to find low cost ways to keep their kids entertained. After all, summer day camps and overnight camps, while fun and educational, can get expensive quickly.
Luckily, there are plenty of companies stepping up to offer free programs for kids. If you want to keep your children entertained this summer without going broke, try some of these suggestions:
1. Sign your child up for free summer reading programs
There are many free summer reading programs:
Scholastic. This reading program is for children ages 4 to 14. It begins May 5th, and children can win small prizes. In addition, the winning elementary school (with kids who read the most minutes) will get a visit from David Shannon. The winning middle school will get a visit from Gordon Korman.
Pottery Barn Summer Reading Challenge Kids who read any 8 books on Pottery Barn’s list by July 31st receive a free book. (There is not information on the website about ages, but the books look to be for children under 6 or 7.) You can call your local store to see if they are participating.
TD Bank If you have one in your area, this is a great program! Kids read 10 books during the summer, fill out the form, take the form to the nearest TD Bank, open an account, and TD Bank will deposit $10! (Call your local bank to make sure they are participating in 2014.)
Sylvan’s Book Adventure Kids Kids in K-8th grade read a book on the book finder page, take a quiz, and earn points for correct answers. They can redeem the points for online prizes.
The local library Every year my son, a book lover, signs up for the local library’s reading program. The top 50 readers are treated to a pizza and bowling party, which my son has been able to attend for the last three years. Other kids receive a free book of their choice at the end of the program.
Please note that for the reading programs that offer prizes, it’s best to finish the challenge early as prizes tend to run out before the deadline.
2. Try free summer bowling
In the United States and Canada, kids can bowl 2 games for free every day during the summer. The starting dates vary by location, but many bowling alleys begin offering free bowling on May 1st. In addition, you may be able to sign up for a family pass so that you can bowl at a discount while your children bowl free. Some locations also offer shoe rental passes, so you can rent bowling shoes at a discount.
3. Free math programs
Summer reading programs are great because they prevent the summer slide that happens when your kids stop going to school for three months. The same summer slide affects children’s math abilities. Some programs like XtraMath are completely free and let kids review their math facts in just a few minutes a day.
Big Brainz also offers free video game downloads to teach your children their math facts in a fun way.
4. Watch movies at a steep discount
Select CineMark theaters are offering G and PG rated movies for .50 cents if you buy a 10 movie pass in advance or $1 per movie at the door. This program runs for 10 weeks during the summer. (Days and times vary by location.)
5. Have backyard fun.
While all of these programs are good and should be taken advantage of, if possible, don’t forget to also let your kids just have fun outdoors. From playing with friends to riding bikes, to playing in the sprinkler, to playing in the park, there are plenty of ways for kids to have fun this summer that aren’t expensive.
What is your favorite, frugal activity for your kids during the summer months?
We like to go for family bike rides in the summer to the McDonalds about a mile away. We drive there, have an ice cream cone, then drive back. It doesn’t take long (even for my teenager), and it’s great family togetherness time.
My parents’ summer ‘program’ for my three brothers and I as we grew up: “go outside and play” as soon as we’d had breakfast, “come in and have a bath” when it was bedtime. Three months of bliss. 🙂
My daughter is having her violin class and it’s very quite expensive. Next summer, I’m planning to enroll her for a free summer swimming class, my friend told me that it’s good for 2 months and the best part of it is free!