Can you feel it? The rhythmic bounce of a ball against a wall, the sharp scent of fresh-cut grass wafting in from the park, the percussive laughter of kids making the most of the stretch in the evenings. After the longest winter ever (we reckon it’s been eighteen months at least), summer is finally here – and with it, it brings hope. Hope for a post-lockdown life of summer leisure. Hope for a summer of fun activities. Hope for a summer unmarred by COVID-19 and all its devastation.

Alongside this hope, of course, there is trepidation – how on earth are you going to entertain your kids this summer? If you’re feeling the pressure to make this summer one to remember, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered, with our list of fun (screen-free!) activities for foster kids.

If you’re interested in foster care, please reach out to Orchard Fostering today. We’re available on the phone or via email – you can also fill out a form directly on our contact page. We recruit carers from all across Ireland. At the moment, we’re particularly focused on the west and south of the country – if you are in those areas and interested in fostering, please contact us today.

Explore the great outdoors – all over Ireland (or at home!)

While the COVID-19 pandemic initially seemed destined to limit our horizons (no travel abroad, five kilometre limits), it has instead given us the gift of a greater appreciation of our immediate surroundings. Instead of jetting off to a sun destination, we have been forced to become explorers in our own land – and what a land it is!

This summer, why not explore Ireland and take your foster children on an adventure across the country? From beautiful beaches (Bishop’s Quarter in Clare, Velvet Strand in Dublin, Barleycove in Cork) to electrifying landscapes (the Burren, the Curragh, the Giant’s Causeway), historical monuments (Browne’s Hill Dolmen in Carlow, Newgrange, the Rock of Cashel) to national parks (Connemara, Killarney, the Wicklow Mountains) – there is always something to do or somewhere to go in Ireland.

Create a rainy day list

“It’s a great country – if only we got the weather!” How many times have we heard this refrain on a beautiful summer’s day? Sometimes, we just have to accept reality – Ireland is a rainy country. Just because it’s summer in our minds doesn’t mean it’ll always be summer outside. When the weather takes a turn for the worst, it can be tempting to set aside your outdoor plans and settle down in front of the TV for the day.

To combat those rainy day blues (and to avoid screen-time overload) we recommend creating a rainy day list, full of screen-free indoor activities. Working with your foster children, ask them to list all their favourite indoor activities at the start of summer. Playing with LEGO, getting down to some painting, baking cookies, playing charades – whatever they love to do when the rain is pouring down. Write down all your ideas on slips of paper and place them in a rainy day jar. Then, the next time Mother Nature lets you down, take a slip of paper from the jar and get cracking.

Throw a garden party – just for you 

We all miss a good garden party – and we’re probably going to keep missing them for quite a while. However, just because we can’t have too many other households in our home doesn’t mean we can’t still have all the fun of planning and organising a garden party.

Pick a date for your family garden party and start organising it with your foster child. Bring them into the planning process, allowing them to offer suggestions and input their own ideas. Working together on a project like this helps to forge a bond with your foster child.

Once you’ve picked your date and decided on your food, get decorating. Make your garden (or your dining area) into a party paradise – streamers, balloons, whatever takes your fancy. Get everything you need for the food and prepare it together, working with your foster child to deliver a healthy and nutritious meal for the whole family.

Keep reading with the Libraries Ireland Summer Stars programme

We’ve extolled the virtues of reading with your foster child before. Summer – when school is out and the world is wide open – is often a time when reading may not be a priority for your foster child. That’s why Libraries Ireland have developed their Summer Stars programme – designed to encourage children to visit their local library, encouraging them to read and write throughout their summer holidays.

As well as encouraging reading, Summer Stars is full of activities for your foster child – from online quizzes to short story competitions. The best part about the programme? It’s completely free.

Make art – every day

Expressing themselves creatively is one of the key life skills to teach your foster child, helping them develop critical thinking skills and allowing them to look at the world in a new way. The summer months are a great time to develop creativity in your foster child, by encouraging them to do something creative every day. Every morning, ask your foster child to draw a picture, write a story or build something with their LEGOs. Make a habit of creativity in the summer and you will see this habit continue on into the school year.

If you’re interested in foster care, please reach out to Orchard Fostering today. We’re available on the phone or via email – you can also fill out a form directly on our contact page.