As summer approaches, and moms everywhere begin their annual struggle to figure out how to survive the summer with kids at home and out of school, there’s no better time than now to really look at what is best for your kids when it comes to keeping them entertained. And, with so many parents working from home with little ones in tow, it’s important to learn the best possible ways of entertaining them as well. These children could be home with their parents year-round and not just during the summer months. Did you know that there are ways that you can not only keep your kids busy this summer, but also help in their development? There are. In fact, summertime can be the ideal time to energize your kids and help them develop many essential skills that can be utilized throughout the year.

One leading expert, Dr. David V Schapira, an internationally known physician who has written and researched extensively on parenting issues addresses this specifically in his latest book, Fetus to Fifth Grade. He offers tips and solutions for parents to learn ways to enjoy time spent with their kids and to learn the right way to engage with their children, no matter what their age.

Here are some parenting tips for summertime success:

Let Children Play by Themselves: Play is an important learning exercise for children and it’s very important to let children play by themselves without an adult running the show and providing structure all the time. This is the one mistake many parents make during the summer and throughout the year. They feel they constantly need to be entertaining their children so they aren’t “bored.” However, when you allow your children to be more independent and play on their own they will learn through play to cooperate with others, share and take turns, form friendships, negotiate power struggles and concede on occasions. If you interfere too much or provide too much structure or oversight, you will impede and slow the learning of these skills, which are important later in life. So let your children play this summer on their own and have fun.

Let them Use Their Imaginations: Researchers Catherine Garvey at the University of Maine and Kenneth Rubin at the University of Maryland agree that play should be pleasurable and enjoyable. It should be spontaneous and voluntary too with no goal or objective. It also should incorporate make believe, fantasy or imagination in some way. So many parents lose sight of this, especially over the summer and feel the need to buy more toys or commence in more and more activities whereas if they just let their children use their imagination, they would be so much better off.

For younger children and babies, it is true that children love novelty. Normal household items such as plastic bowls, plates or plastic kitchen utensils are toys to a baby or infant. To further the experience even more, engage with your baby. You will see that while they play, babies watch parent’s reaction. Make your gestures obvious with laughing or giggling.

Don’t Buy Their Love With Toys: Toys are great, however, they shouldn’t be a substitute for time spend with your children. There is a growing concern that because children have so many toys parents assume they do not need to play with their children. Many parents have heard about laboratory animals that have toys in their cages and how their brains are more developed than rats that do not have toys in their cages. Actually research shows that adding more toys does not increase infant performance. In fact an enriched environment is one where a parent plays with, talks to, and laughs with the infant or child.

In 2006 the American Academy of Pediatrics wanted to stress the importance of play and parental interaction in a policy statement. “The importance of play in providing healthy child development and maintaining a strong parent/child bond.” They lamented the preponderance of structured activities and market driven, adult centered play and called on doctors to recognize the importance of free play for healthy development. When play is controlled by adults, children have to abide by adult rules and this does not enhance creativity, leadership and group skills. The Academy noted that much of parent’s time was spent coordinating and transporting their child from one activity to the next.

Lose the Guilt and Don’t Replace it With More Toys: Parents often feel guilty because they work and cannot interact with their child. In fact, research by Juliet Shor shows that parents who spend less time with their children spend more on toys. It is called Abstainer’s Remorse. This leads infants and children to become overloaded, overstimulated and ultimately overwhelmed. The net result is that they tune out. The average American child gets 70 new toys a year and although U.S. children comprise only 4% of the world’s population U.S. children receive 40% of the toys in the world. With smart toys infants and children become passive observers and not creative. Creative play and overcoming obstacles is the foundation of critical thinking. And with the help of play, they will need to learn about problem solving, resourcefulness, conflict resolution and imagination play before pre-school at four years old.

Interact with Your Children Regularly: It’s so easy to do, even on a tight schedule. Engage your children. When you talk point objects out. Get them to follow your gaze. This is real interaction that is effective. If you run errands explain everything – what can be seen out the car window and items in the supermarket. Children pick up far more than you would believe and then enjoy the time together more.

Spend uninterrupted time getting to know how your child responds to you, how she handles stress and how she expresses herself when she is happy, frustrated, bored or fascinated. If you are playing a game and your baby starts looking away it is probably because she has had enough. If you continue, out of sync, baby will become frustrated and cry.

This summer spend more quality time with your children and see what a positive effect it can have on them. For more parenting tips, get Fetus to Fifth Grade today.

Author's Bio: 

Fetus to Fifth Grade takes you from pregnancy to those critical first few years. The author, Dr. Schapira is an internationally recognized physician and researcher in the areas of nutrition and cancer prevention, and has been featured in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, CNN, NBC Nightly News and The Today Show. Stop by the site for a free copy of the first three chapters. Article is free to be reprinted as long as bio remains.