Ahhh, summer. Don’t you love it?! Summer is a time for enjoying family, vacationing, cooking out, slowing down, and learning. Yes, learning. I know, I know. Hear me out. You know I love your kiddo and I want only the very best for him. As one who knows what next year holds for your child, I offer the following suggestions for your child’s summer break, because summer truly is a time for learning.
- Play!! Most kids don’t play enough. We can place the blame on the testing culture in America, on the often well-founded fears of parents that keep kiddos indoors more and more, or on the overall busy, busy, busy lives we all lead. Whatever the reasons, we need to ensure that kids get to play. Organized play (teams) are great, but I also love seeing kiddos outdoors, tossing balls, chalking up the sidewalks, and just running around. I also recommend board games and things like Legos for encouraging problem solving, strategizing, critical thinking, and cooperating with others. See the learning going on?
- Read. Anyone who knows me knows I’m all about reading. If your kiddo isn’t really “into” reading, try reading TO him. Make it a daily ritual. Or try joining the local library’s summer reading program. Reading regularly is key to your child’s success. Don’t stop with merely reading. Talk about it, too. (We call our talks “book club” in my classroom and it’s a wonderful way to assess understanding.) Discuss predictions about what will happen in the next chapter. Discuss how a character feels and why. Chat about how a character changed throughout the book or what the lesson in the story is. Discuss interesting new facts you discover in nonfiction texts. (Once my students are hooked, I cannot stop them from sharing interesting facts.) Introduce a new genre to your child. If he only reads about dinosaurs, introduce a biography to him. Read, read, read!!! And, don’t forget when YOU read, you’re modeling for them. Successful people read. Period.
- Get bored! Oh my goodness, I feel so strongly about this one. It’s only when left without stimulation, without smart phones, without movies that kids get to enjoy letting their imaginations soar. Take a slow walk and let your kiddos lead the conversations and observations. Take a road trip with no DVDs or smart phones. Let them stare out the windows, get bored, and learn to entertain themselves.
- Rest. We push our kiddos so hard in school. They need time to relax.
- Travel. If your budget allows, travel out of town, out of state, and out of the country. Let the kiddos SEE national monuments instead of reading about them. Let them observe other cultures. Let them EXPERIENCE what mountains are, what the ocean sounds and smells like. If your budget or work schedule don’t permit travel, try hometown field trips for your family. There are obvious choices -museums, farms, zoos, acquariums. You can learn anywhere, though. Restaurants and grocery stores provide myriad lessons (socially acceptable behavior, reading, estimating costs, adding prices, making change, figuring tips….)
- Cook. Cooking can be such fun and can create wonderful memories. Your child will learn so much about healthy choices, reading recipes, measuring ingredients, cooperating, and so on.
- Plan ahead. Your child may have mixed feelings about returning to school. Make it as fun as possible. Pick out special school supplies and clothes. Meet the new teacher before school starts. Plan a special first day dinner. And about 2 weeks before DAY 1, start the school routine. Go to bed and get up at the same times you will once school officially begins. It will make the transition easier. If you have any special concerns about the year, try to talk to the teacher privately as soon as possible. Trust me, she wants you and your child to have a great year!
- Relax. You’re doing a great job, parents!
I’m sure I’ve left out some great suggestions. Feel free to add to my list in the comment section. As always, I wish you MUCH joy!