Keeping Your Kids Interested in Learning During Summer Break
Ask almost any teacher: s/he will tell you that most students backslide during the summer. Some of the information that the students knew when school ended in May or June is forgotten by August. This necessitates a refresher course when school resumes in August, which consumes valuable classroom time that could otherwise have been used teaching new information to students. How can you help your kids maintain and enhance their knowledge base over the summer so that they are better prepared for their classes in the autumn?
To kids, the summer is all about fun. Therefore, you should couch summer learning opportunities as fun experiences for your kids. What follows is a list of fun and educational activities that you and your kids can experience this summer.
Take advantage of learning opportunities in your own community.
- 1. Go on a nature hike. Take a book on plants and animals with you. How many species can you identify? What is photosynthesis? Which species that you observe use photosynthesis? What is a food chain and how does it work among the species you see on your nature hike? How do all the elements of nature work together to affect the species that you observe? For example, if it rains, does that help make plants grow? Does that then provide more food for deer? Do well fed deer provide more food for carnivorous wildlife (that you hopefully don’t encounter on your nature hike)? What is the difference between an herbivore, a carnivore, and an omnivore? Which animals fall under which category?
- 2. Grow your own backyard garden. What are minerals? How do minerals in the soil affect plant development? What do rain and sun have to do with plant development? What is nutrition? How does that affect a body’s development?
- 3. Participate in summer programs at your local library, arts center, museum of natural history, or other civic or cultural organization. For example, some libraries have summer reading-is-fun youth programs in which authors read their books aloud to groups of kids, some arts centers have summer arts classes for youth, some museums of natural history have summer programs to expose kids to the fun and fascination of the development of species, etc.
Take advantage of learning opportunities near your own community.
- 4. Take mini-vacations to locations that will be fun and educational. For example, you may visit a famous art museum, a fossil bed that is currently being excavated and is open to public touring, etc. You can even visit locations that are designed to be purely recreational and use that as a springboard for educational opportunities about those locations. For example, if you visit an amusement park, discuss physics . Why doesn’t that roller coaster shoot off it’s track? Why do you feel like your head is pressed against the back of your seat when you spin around on that barrel ride? Or discuss economics. How does this park generate revenue? What does it likely do with the revenue it receives? When the park’s employees get paid, what do they likely do with their revenue? What are taxes? What does our government do with its revenue? What would happen if this park suddenly closed one day? What would happen to the revenue streams and everything funded by them?
Take advantage of distant learning opportunities.
- 5. Take vacations that will expose your kids to fun, educational activities. Visit Washington, D.C. to learn about the history of our nation. Travel to Mexico to observe and learn about a foreign culture and language. Spend a week in San Diego, California observing and learning about oceanic life.
These and many other opportunities abound. Your kids’ summer learning opportunities are limited only by your imagination.