Summer Fun Even When You’re Not Feeling Well

Summer Fun Even When You're Not Feeling Well

Activities with Improved Psychological Effects

Sand castleSchool has ended, and summer vacation has officially started. Summer break usually means sports camps, sleepovers, and pool days in the hot sun for many grade school children. However, this can be a tough season for a child with cancer because they may feel the FOMO (fear of missing out) because they can’t participate in the usual summer activities their friends are enjoying. Still, it’s absolutely understandable that boredom can set in quickly when kids are sick and really need to rest! Between the necessary trips to the hospital and time to rest, it may feel like there is no window for summer fun. Many parents look for activities that keep their child busy and utilize skills that the child already has. While practicing specific skill-sets is important, brain growth happens more with free play and thinking than with any other activity, especially during the lower school years. Therefore allowing a child to engage in daily, safe, adult-supervised free time can encourage the development of creative skills, resulting in better brain function. Better brain function can strengthen your child’s ability to cope with changes they will face physically during their cancer journey.

With proper planning, summer activities can help build a child’s self-esteem and autonomy. We’ve found some great activities that will keep kids occupied and take part in summer fun that meets their specific needs. Here are our picks for summer activities that are gentle on the body, can improve psychological well-being, help build social and psychological learning skills, and are just plain FUN!!

Summer Fun At Home!
  • Action symbolDocumentary Movies
    • Summer is a great time to make a goal or list of new people, places, or things your child wants to learn about. Have your child pick 2-3 topics that they are curious about, and at the end of the summer, have them create a short report or presentation to show you what they learned. This can be a significant source of “brain food” while still being happily engaged in a new concept. Take advantage of the plethora of documentaries available on streaming channels like NetFlix, Hulu, Disney+, or YouTube!
  • Summer Reading Program
    • Summer reading is critical for helping kids maintain learning while school is out and fostering social-emotional development, discovering the joy of stories, and elevating the importance of lifelong learning.Alarm clock and summer time Call or visit your local library to find out if they offer a summer reading program. Many times libraries will offer prizes and incentives for the number of books read over summer break! Alternatively, there are many online summer reading programs that can help your child choose books and track their progress. Here are a few great resources:
      • Scholastic Home Base-From April 26 through September 3, visit the Scholastic summer zone for stories, games, and community. Keep track of your books. Read e-books. Meet favorite characters and authors. Print reading achievement reports.
  • Barnes and Noble-Download and print a Reading Journal. Then, read eight books and record the titles in the printed journal. Once you’ve read the 8 books, take your journal to your local Barnes and Noble to get a free book. It couldn’t be easier. You can also find a printable parent’s guide with tips and fun literacy activities.
  • Half-Price Books Feed Your Brain-Read for at least 15 minutes each day. Download their free reading log to record your minutes. Once you’ve read 300 minutes, you can turn your completed log into your local HPB store and earn $5 Half-Price Books Bucks. You can also find tips and printable book lists.
  • Pen and journalJournal It
    • This might seem old fashion to your child, but journaling has been touted as a great coping tool, providing journal-keepers with a place to dump and puzzle through emotions and grapple with life turned upside down by cancer. The healing power of journaling has long been tapped by people affected by cancer, with many reliable studies supporting promises of improved emotional and even physical health. Although there are many ways of doing it, writing about events, people, and things you’re grateful for appears good for the mind, heart, and soul. And it can be as simple as writing a list at the end of the day of three things you are grateful for that day. Here are some great tools that can make this a rewarding summer activity.
      • Digital Journals that are secure and free to create!
      • The Paper and Pen Way!
      • Cards
        • Simple card games are a great way to keep kids occupied when you need just a short activity. Some good ole’ card games you might have played as a child still provide hours of fun and provide a respite from the digital world. Most child psychology experts agree that memory games, such as playing cards, build thinking skills, concentration, attention, and persistence. Check out some of the classics here. For older kids, let them explore some card tricks on YouTube and see if they can fool you!
  • Father and son playing chessChess
    • Summer is the perfect time to learn a new board game or master one you might already know. Chess is at the top of our list for so many reasons! There are many benefits to playing chess, for both adults and children alike. The majority of these benefits deal with developing and improving cognitive brain functions, including problem-solving, creative thinking, strategic planning, pattern recognition, and memorization skills. Also, it helps to potentially raise IQ levels while teaching sportsmanship and building self-confidence at the same time. Not to mention, it is so much fun to play! You can find many different styles of chess sets on Amazon that come with instructions on how to play. If you can’t play in person there are some wonderful online resources available to get your chess on! Check these out:Deck of cards
Summer Fun Away from Home!

Summer camps and family programs are offered to children and teens fighting cancer around the country. Camps allow children to spend time in a supportive, nurturing environment while allowing them to bond with their peers. Below is a list of local and national camps designed to serve children with cancer and their families. Many centers offer full-time care for children with special needs, and some have doctors and nurses on staff to provide medical care to campers when necessary. If you consider attending a local or distant camp or retreat, talk with your healthcare providers first to ensure it’s the best suited for your family.

Here are a few vetted ones that are open for enrollment now!

*A complete list of camps and programs can be found on the website:

Need More Support for the Summer? Contact Us!

If you are a family with a child newly diagnosed with cancer, or if you know of a family who finds themselves in this challenging situation, please contact Here to Serve. Our team is ready to help families navigate this challenging new world in light of a childhood cancer diagnosis and provide support in many different ways. Please click on the Get Help button from our homepage. Our team at Here to Serve wishes you a wonderful summer season filled with new adventures and lasting memories!

By Sameera Rangwala, M.S., M.P.H

About the Author

Sameera Rangwala spent 15 years in the biotechnology industry. As a scientist and research professional, she uses her skills to blog and provides words of support to the cancer community.

All information on this blog is for informational and educational purposes only. Always consult a medical provider in your particular area of need before making significant changes in your medical decisions or lifestyle.