After 180 days of school, everyone is ready for a break. But is the 10+ week summer really a good idea? It’s not if students do nothing to improve themselves intellectually. While our kids need breaks from the rigorous duties of school, they still need activities that support their intellectual growth, even in the summer. Here are some suggestions for making summer a time of learning.
- Read. This is probably the most beneficial thing students can do over the summer. Take them to the local library. Buy some cheap used books on Amazon.com. Or, read the books on the shelf that have never been touched. Kids don’t have to be bookworms to benefit from reading. A key to getting kids to read is to read aloud to them so they will learn to love good stories. Using reading as a quality time activity also helps kids to view it favorably. Then, help them check out books with topics or stories that they will enjoy. You may have to require reading time. For example, have them read for 20 minutes in bed before you turn the lights out. The next time your kids say they are bored, suggest reading!
- Take Field Trips. When you are on family vacation, try to schedule in a learning experience. Take in a museum, visit an aquarium, tour a historical sight, or hike a nature trail. Attending enrichment camps that range from academics to the arts are great, but it’s also beneficial when kids have learning experiences with their parents. Not all learning comes from a textbook. Try to work some learning experiences into your summer schedule.
- Limit Media. It’s not harmful if used in moderation, but excessive screen time develops a lazy brained and difficult to stimulate kid. This includes TV shows, video games, smart phones, and tablets. Researchers refer to electronic screens as “electronic cocaine” and “digital drugs.” Technology can be fun and useful, but overexposure comes with a brain-numbing price.
- Play Thinking Games. Encourage your children to play games that require thinking. Teach them to play chess (you may have to learn yourself!). Buy them games that require strategy, not just rely on chance. Whether it’s board games or card games, they can be fun yet stimulating ways to pass the time.
- Get Outside. Pediatricians tell us that children need at least 60 minutes of exercise per day for health reasons. But exercise has benefits beyond physical health. It increases neural activity, improves memory, and helps students learn at a faster rate. Play outside, ride bikes, or go to the park. The important thing is to get exercise outdoors.
- Fill in Learning Gaps. If there are some particular skills that your child needs to improve, use the summer to practice those skills. You can purchase practice books, use educational websites, or download e-tablet apps to build your children’s skills in a less intense way than their rigorous school work. Some children may even consider it to be fun.
Summertime is fun, but don’t forget to keep learning!