Information Possibly Outdated
The information presented on this page was originally released on May 18, 1998. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information. If you plan to quote or reference this information in a publication, please check with the Extension specialist or author before proceeding.
Make Summer Plans For Kids, Parents
By Kelli McPhail
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Children want to have fun and parents often seem desperate to find a place for kids to stay during summer months. Working together may solve the problem.
Dr. Louise Davis, Mississippi State University Extension Service's child and family development specialist, said full-time care during the day might create the best environment for children.
"First look at school or community programs that are offered," Davis said. "These programs are often the most stable possibility, satisfying parents and offering a variety of activities benefitting children. Check on fees and decide if this would be an affordable solution."
Davis said parents can work with other families to pool resources and hire a college-age student home for the summer. This helps parents financially and gives the children someone other than a sibling to play with. A college student gives children more options for activities, but parents should limit each college student to two to three children.
Parents should be aware that teenagers cannot handle as many children as a college student. If a teenager babysits, snacks and lunches should be planned in advance.
Thoroughly interview the candidate when looking for the best babysitter. Davis said to look for potential babysitters who understand that the job requires giving children complete attention. Babysitters need to be trustworthy, dependable and consistently responsible. It also helps if the babysitter's personality is compatible with the children they will keep.
"Parents should interview the babysitter first and then have a second interview to let the children ask questions," Davis said. "The second interview will also allow parents to see how well the babysitter and children interact."
When deciding who the best babysitter is, call references and do a careful background check to make sure they have a good reputation and record.
Before leaving, parents should discuss ground rules with babysitters.
"Discuss disciplinary actions and make sure the babysitters understand what discipline techniques are acceptable," Davis said. "Give the babysitters emergency numbers and post them in a visible place."
Once the babysitter and children get acquainted, they should decide on activities that both would enjoy.
"Using the outside or natural environment for fun activities can teach kids so much," Davis said. "Starting a recycling program, taking nature walks, identifying trees and making leaf collections are great activities for sunny days."
Davis said rainy day activities can include measuring rain, studying the weather and making snacks together. The public library also has a summer reading program that can be useful for children of all ages on a gloomy day.