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Amelia Sharpe, 3, paints with stamps during an art activity at Museum ABC's at the Bennington Museum in partnership with The Bennington Library on a recent Thursday afternoon.

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BENNINGTON — School is out for the summer, and that opens up lots of opportunities for learning in different ways. Southwestern Vermont Medical Center issued tips to get your summer off to a great start:

Get vaccinated and boosted against COVID. Kids ages 5 – 18 can get their third dose of COVID vaccine and should when they are eligible. The vaccine has been approved for children ages 6 months – 4 years. Visit the COVID Resource Center page for hours and follow SVMC on Facebook or get our e-newsletter for updates.

Eat fresh. Becoming accustomed to healthy flavors is an important key to a healthy life, and summer is a great time to introduce new seasonal produce to kids. Did you know that snap peas can be almost as sweet as fruit when eaten farm fresh? Go berry picking, test out a zucchini bread recipe, or try introducing steamed broccoli with some cheddar cheese to the cheese-loving kid in your life. If it flops, no worries. The most important thing is that your kid is exposed to opportunities to try healthy foods.

Get outside. Our area has so many wonderful opportunities to explore in nature. Need ideas? Try the Vermont State Park’s Venture Vermont Outdoor Challenge or an activity passport from Come Alive Outside. Check out your local library for free Vermont state park passes. Packing kids’ days with healthy outdoor time has so many benefits, including reduced stress, better emotional control, learning, movement, and more. Plus, it helps limit overuse of digital devices. Don’t forget the sunscreen, bug spray, and to complete a thorough tick check when you come in.

Look for unconventional learning opportunities. Educational opportunities outside of school are one of the biggest predictors of school success. And, just like we have great outdoor opportunities nearby, our area is brimming with fantastic arts, history, science, and cultural organizations. In Bennington, there is free live music almost every Thursday and Friday night! Visit your local library to borrow passes that enable free access to many great cultural sites. While you are there, check out the library’s events for kids and find books to help your child explore a topic that interests them.

Focus on safety. Take a moment to review water and fireworks safety with your child before taking part in these activities. Most importantly, be sure to model safe behavior for your child. It’s also a good time to review fire safety and practice your escape plan. Finally, review your first aid kits and make sure they are stocked with fresh supplies. Keep one at home and one in the car.

With these tips, you can count on a fun summer filled with safe and healthy activity and a different and valuable type of learning.

Kelsey Pierce is a physician assistant at SVMC Pediatrics, part of Southwestern Vermont Medical Center and Southwestern Vermont Health Care.


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