By Jacqui Dziak
Right about the time you have mastered home schooling with your kids, you might have looked at the calendar to see that Memorial Day is right around the corner, signaling the start of summer. Before you panic that you might be sheltering-at-home with your kids all summer with little to do, we have some fun suggestions that will surely make it an enjoyable summer for your kids and your pets.
Remember the importance of simple, unstructured play time. There is a reason schools have recess. Recess gives kids the chance to explore their unbridled creativity. Pets can be an awesome addition to your kid’s play time. If you have a dog that likes to play catch, tossing the ball in the yard to Fido offers loads of fun and sunshine (don’t forget the sunscreen and water for Fido). If you prefer air conditioning or are looking for a fun activity with your pup in the evening, try sitting on the floor with your legs in a wide “V “opposite another family member. Roll the ball to each other and play “pickle in the middle” with your pup. Trust us, your pup will love always being the pickle in the middle, trying to capture the rolling ball. Tie a feather to a stick and your kitty will enjoy taking endless swings. Just be sure to supervise your cat while they are playing and put the toy out of reach after playtime. Pets make the best play mates.
Summer reading can also be more fun with your dog, cat, rabbit, fish- or any pet. Pets love spending time with their favorite human and would certainly enjoy hearing a good story. Having your child read aloud to your pet builds confidence- especially for early readers. It is also a great way to encourage your child to do their summer reading.
Many of us have elderly neighbors that aren’t leaving their homes often during this unprecedented time. Summer is a great time for you and your kids to offer to take your elderly neighbor’s dog for a walk. They will appreciate the help, and you will get quality time walking with your child. Remember you and your child need to keep socially distant from your neighbor and wear your mask when offering to help, and when retrieving their beloved pet. If you really want to be ambitious, create fun homemade masks with cute animal print to wear on your walks. A quick google search will lead you to several websites teaching you how to make your own mask at home.
The Pasadena Humane Society has also brought our Kids for Animals program into your home. Our humane education activities encourage respect and kindness for all living beings and help kids connect with the animals that they love. Connection is especially important at this time when play dates are restricted. Activities are geared toward kids ages 7-12 with new content being added each week. Some examples are a fun mystery decoder, what would you do if you were the vet scenarios, inspiration for writing your own pet poetry, and so much more. Visit our Kids for Animals at Home page for more fun and educational activities.
Having a pet of your own, fostering a pet, or walking a neighbor’s pet can offer your child great companionship this summer. When your children play and care for a pet, they learn life skills that cannot be taught in the classroom. Caring for a pet gives kids a greater sense of empathy and teaches responsibility- not to mention pets make the best play mates!
Wishing you a healthy and happy summer.