By Helen Reddy Katz, Family Care Advisor
Family Care Office, University of Toronto
Summer looks different for different families. While some parents work lives are busy in the summers and require elaborate summer camp schedules, others may opt for more of an old-school summer with more free time than organized activity. Maybe one or both parents are out of class for the summer, or maybe an older sibling or babysitter is responsible for keeping younger children busy. Maybe camp simply isn’t in the budget this year.
No matter what your reason is, summer days can feel long with zero structure or plans. During the years my children were small, I had many summers on parental leave where I found some wonderful free or low-cost gems around the city. I found these activities gave a small mission to the day, and when I did resort to tablets and basement movies, there was little guilt as we’d have already been outside. Here are a few of my favourites, and a few I discovered along the way:
Philpott Children’s Tennis. Philpott Tennis runs in various parks across the City of Toronto, for children and youth ages 6 to 17. It is administered by the City of Toronto, and it is free to register for daily group tennis lessons for two-week sessions. Its aim is to bring tennis to inner-city neighborhoods; there are still many registration spots open for summer 2023.
Toronto Public Library Summer Programs. Toronto Public Library (TPL) runs a great summer reading program to encourage children to keep their reading skills going throughout the summer. In addition to this, the library offers free workshops and weeklong two-hour summer camps for children to learn more about everything from theatre to coding.
City of Toronto Swimming Lessons. Although swimming lessons run year-round at City of Toronto pools, many outdoor pools offer condensed sessions during the summer months. Although most have a cost associated with them, they allow quick swim development over a two-week period. Considering most outdoor pools are found alongside parks and even splashpads, an outing to swim lessons can add up to a great summer adventure.
Nutmeg Soccer. Like Philpott tennis, Nutmeg Soccer aims to create a more inclusive and free sport environment. Located close to the St. George campus at Harbord Collegiate, drop-in sessions welcome children ages six to twelve.
Looking for more ideas? Check out this great list of free festivals, museum dates and events throughout the city this summer. But remember to take the time for unplanned adventures; popsicle eating and water fights. Sometimes the best summer memories are made of moments like these.