July 6, 2023

Five Facets of Fun for the Summer

- Stephanie Hurd

a girl in school holds up a braille pencil case she made

Make the most of your youth’s summer vacation and grab hold of some summer fun!  You may even be considering a gentle shift from a care free summertime lifestyle to finding an emphasis on having some productive fun your children can use as enjoyable skills to bring back to school.

Enjoyable Skills may include but are not limited to the following:

1. Visit your local library

What a great way to beat the heat by making perhaps weekly trips to explore the wonderful world of books!  For younger children, there are often creative story times to sit in and listen.  All ages may explore a large print and/or audio section.  Local librarians are also very adept at assisting with set up and instruction on how to utilize their online technology such as Libby and Hoopla.  Fostering an imagination, strengthening reading skills, vocabulary and knowledge on how to access the library are tools your children will bring back to school simply through the love of books. Here is a link to a listing of New Hampshire public libraries.

2. Youth friendly venues

Science museums and wildlife centers often have free or discounted days to mark on your calendars to explore.  Even your local library often has passes for you to use for such opportunities.  Any chance you can take part in a narrated close up hands-on option will both excite and engage your youth in many areas of different sciences. Building brain power is building knowledge for school and beyond, encouraged by these fun options. Check out this link as a place to begin your search for science and nature. Remember to ask what exhibits and tours they may offer which are inclusive to those with sight loss.

3. Sports

Be sure your youth are up and moving; whether that is doing something in relation to individual athletics or in a group or on a team.  Soon everyone will be back to school, and there’s a fair amount of stamina to last throughout the days and weeks involved in the school year.  Plus a summer full of just barbecue, pizza and ice cream without a place to burn it off promotes a lethargic, unhealthy way of life. Catch a swim class or go out as a family kayaking or canoeing.  Many spots offer rentals and have double kayaks for 2 people to team up in one kayak.  Maybe check out your local recreation department to sign up for some summer soccer or basketball.  Share about what works best for your youth to fully participate; whether it means using a beeping ball or one with bells in it for an audible signal, or instructing the coach to call out names or numbers rather than using gestures such as pointing. Talk it through with your youth and the coaches, and you’ll be cheering your children on in upcoming games in no time.

This fall they’ll be ready for gym class or may even want to try out for the swim team or a sports team at school! Physical options offer so many health benefits, along with self confidence, social interaction, working toward goals,  an outlet of enjoyment  and much more to take with them forever! In addition to your local recreation department, here’s a link to a fabulous NH program when it comes to adaptive sports.

4. Music

Much like sports, music is a hugely popular choice for youth to pursue as there are so many different genres and instruments for youth to explore. Fitting in some summer music lessons may jumpstart your youth into joining their school band or orchestra. The love of music also provides an expressive outlet, a community of friendships in belonging to a group, self confidence working toward goals, and beyond!

Communicating with your youth and the instructors about whether your child uses large print, learns music by rote, and other key factors in making learning music pleasurable and successful are an important part of the process. There are often scholarships and/or a sliding scale to cover costs.

Here is a link to search for any potential music summer camps in NH and beyond.

Here’s a link should your youth wish to pursue Braille music.

5. Arts & Crafts

Not all summer days are fun in the sun. Have some age appropriate indoor rainy day projects your youth can tackle to create and focus on.  They may explore different textures such as fabrics, thick paint, scrunched paper, etc. Whether it is origami, papier mache, air dry clay, or something else, tactile art is expressive, inclusive, and rewarding to both the creator and the world around us.  Take advantage of delving into a project or two these remaining weeks of summer.  Not only will youth take away the satisfaction of exploration, but they will bring to school the practice of focus, concentration, creativity, the ability to work independently, apply process, patience, and so on.

Check out this link on top tips for creating tactile arts and crafts.

In summary, there’s still time to dive into amazing opportunities, which your youth will enjoy and bring forward to the upcoming school year.  You don’t need to reinvent the wheel to discover options for youth who are blind and visually impaired.  You only need to be mindful  to communicate, ask questions, and reach out to any and all supportive resources, including Future In Sight to be prepared and implement what works best.  Remember, summer is still a time of smiles and celebrations for your youth. Fun and learning are not exclusive terms, but complementary to one another.  Future In Sight offers a host of activities and workshops both in person and online for youth and adults with sight loss, where fun and learning can happen where ever you are!

For additional information on services we provide to youth who are blind and visually impaired, please call 603-224-4039 or email [email protected].

About the Author: Stephanie Hurd is the Assistive Technology & Activities Specialist at Future In Sight.