1. Grow bigger, stronger, better by the end of summer. Pick an age-appropriate, outdoor summer sport—say, basketball, parkour, biking, running, or soccer—and then spend the next few weeks, as a family, improving your moves and endurance. Go back to school (or work) feeling fit and amazing. If volleyball’s your kids’ thing, work on serves, spikes, bumps, and hand-eye coordination. Practice once a week or more in the evening, after dinner, when the air is cooler.
2. Give the gift of competence.
Ditch water wings forever. With weeks to go before school starts, you still have time to teach your kids to swim. Really. Swimming is an essential life skill—and it’s imperative for safety. Drowning is one of the leading causes of accidental deaths in children. Find a certified instructor and sign kids up for group or private lessons. Do this today to keep them safe, and continue lessons next summer. Send kids back to school proud of what they accomplished.
3. Make new friends—before summer’s over. Have your child contact his three best friends, ask each of them to invite one more friend, and then help your child host a get-acquainted party. Serve burgers and dogs, or pizza. Play backyard Frisbee. It’s great to start the school year with old and new buddies.
4. Love your pets. Celebrate National Friendship Day on Sunday, August 6 and give a special shout out to your favorite animal companion. Who else has been that loyal? Urge kids to spend serious quality time feeding, walking, and playing with their two-, four-, and no-legged creatures. Give your pet an outdoor bath if he needs or wants one (once he sees the hose and water). Homemade cards are welcome too.
No pets? No worries! Saturday, August 19 is International Homeless Animals Day, which raises awareness of homeless and abandoned animals. Visit a shelter, introduce your kids to dogs and cats, and let them observe how homeless animals respond to humans. Donate spare change to have pets spayed or neutered, or if you’re all onboard, and the timing’s right, go ahead and adopt one.
5. Dine alfresco. Choose a day to have all your meals outdoors, or change it up a bit: have breakfast on the patio or lawn on day one, lunch under a tree at home or in a park on day two, and dinner outdoors at a family-friendly spot with outdoor dining for day three. Treat kids to the unexpected. Serve dinner for breakfast, breakfast for dinner, and at least one meal that’s totally green, or white, or orange—or walk on the wild side and serve dessert first and dinner later.
6. Make dessert richer. Monday, August 21 is Spumoni Day. Here’s what you need to know about this delectable edible: 1) Spumoni is a molded Italian dessert made with cream, dried fruits, and nuts, and is similar in some ways to ice cream. 2) It’s always sliced, never scooped. 3) Spumoni comes in layers, most often in a pink/green/brown color combo. You may like it. Got a vegan in the family? Switch to vegan whoopee pies (they’re layered) or vegan lemon cupcakes. Now everyone’s happy.
Expand Your Universe
7. Visit the dark side. Step outdoors on Monday, August 21 and watch history in the making. According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a total eclipse of the Sun will be visible from coast-to-coast (in a 70-mile-wide path) for the first time in almost a century. Weather permitting, the entire continent will have the opportunity to view an eclipse (either total or partial) as the Moon passes in front of the Sun, casting a shadow on Earth’s surface.
The total solar eclipse begins near Lincoln City, Oregon, at 10:15 a.m. PDT (1:15 p.m. EDT), and “totality” ends at 2:48 p.m. EDT near Charleston, South Carolina. Learn about safety viewing glasses here.
8. Feel bad for Pluto. Want more science? Celebrate Pluto Demotion Day on Thursday, August 24. It commemorates the downgrading of Pluto (the planet, not the dog) to its status today as a dwarf planet. Read up on Pluto. Then arm your kids with this cool science tidbit: In 2006, the International Astronomical Union adopted the term dwarf planet to describe objects that were bigger than comets and asteroids but not as big as planets.
9. Croon a tune with the family. Perfect the fine art of singing in the round on Tuesday, August 1. It’s Rounds Resounding Day, so give it your best shot. Try songs like “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” or “Three Blind Mice,” and host a practice session from time to time with friends and extended family. Let little ones show off their skills. Who knows what can happen when kids are inspired?
10. Stage a protest. Make faces. Remind your kids that someone is always watching them. Literally. Hidden cameras are all around us. So, on International Wave at the Surveillance Cameras Day on Wednesday, August 16, let your kids have a blast making faces at hidden cameras. Set decorum aside as they celebrate the day with one of the most passive forms of protest ever.