With the hustle and bustle of the school year coming to a close, you’ve probably started wondering what you’ll do now that your foster child’s day isn’t filled with school, practices and homework. The possibilities are endless and vary widely from one child to the next. After seeing all of the possible summer activities for your foster child, you’ll start wondering if there’s enough time to do it all.
Summer Activities for your Foster Child
Your foster child may not have experienced many of your favorite things to do in the summer, like spending a day at the beach or going to the park for a picnic. You have the ability to show him new things and help him discover new interests and passions. Living in New Jersey, you have the benefit of being surrounded by so many options ranging from fun day trips to relaxing weeklong getaways.
Take some time to show your foster son where the nickname “Garden State” comes from and visit 1 of the 30 state parks in New Jersey, such as Washington Crossing State Park or Cape May Point State Park, for a nature walk and picnic. Getting out of the house and away from everything can be therapeutic and serve as a great bonding experience. Unplugging from the electronics you use every day and enjoying nature is a great way for both of you to give your minds a much needed break from staring at a screen. Each of the two previously mentioned parks also offer interesting bits of history to keep him engaged and learning.
When looking for outdoorsy summer activities for your foster child that will teach him valuable life skills and be unforgettable experiences, consider summer camps. Camps are great places for your foster son to experience nature, make new friends, learn how to swim and much more. Every year, Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS) offers scholarships for foster children to spend a week at Camp Johnsonburg. While at camp, he would have the opportunity to try many things he may not have had the chance to do before, such as stand up paddleboarding, zip lining and archery. Spending time at an overnight camp can open your foster son up to new interests and help him build self-confidence.
A trip to New York City or Philadelphia is a great way to incorporate a history lesson into a fun filled day of exploring. Many of the historical sites in Philadelphia, such as the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and Carpenters’ Hall, are open to the public year round and offer interactive experiences that are great for children of all ages. A trip to New York City can showcase some of the country’s most iconic sights, such as Grand Central Station, the Empire State Building and Central Park, as well as offer easy access to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
No summer in New Jersey is complete without a trip to the shore, and with over 141 miles of beach, there is no shortage of places to go. Keansburg and Wildwood are two free beaches that offer plenty of family fun. Along with a view of the Manhattan skyline from the beach, Keansburg also has an amusement park, water park and fishing pier, ensuring fun for the whole family. Wildwood offers nearly 5 miles of beach and a boardwalk filled with rides and games that stretches for 2 miles.
You don’t always need to venture far to enjoy the summer with your foster child. There is plenty of fun to be found in and around your home. It can be something as simple as having a catch with him in the backyard or just spending time with him. If your foster son never had a bike before, the summer is a perfect time to teach him how to ride one. By doing so, you are offering him a sense of freedom and creating a positive memory that will last for years to come. On a rainy day, head to your local library and find a book to read aloud together. Not only is this a great bonding experience, but it’s also a great way to help your foster son develop his reading and public speaking skills.
When summer comes, it’s important to continue providing learning experiences outside of school. The National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) found that children who were not exposed to learning experiences during the summer were 2 ½ to 3 years behind their peers in math and reading by the fifth grade. Finding engaging and educational summer activities for your foster child can be as simple as going down the street to a library or as adventurous as going to one of New Jersey’s many historical sites.
Before you start packing your car, it is important to have an understanding of the do’s and don’ts of taking your foster child on a trip. If you’re a foster parent in New Jersey, you can find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about traveling with a child in care here. If you live outside of New Jersey, you should contact your child’s caseworker to learn about your state’s rules.