1. Read This Summer
The best way to learn something new and to prevent a “summer slide” is to read. I am very fortunate that we don’t have to “make” our daughter read – in fact, we have to peel her away from books to do other things. However, reading is one thing that I wouldn’t hesitate to make “mandatory” in summer. There are many free reading programs available to encourage young readers and reward reading – check out this great round up of free reading summer programs from Mama to 5 Blessings. In need of good books? Check out my book recommendations for different ages and my Best Children Books Booklists Pinterest board.
2. Get Out in Nature
Children can learn so much from being in nature. They will remember anything they discovered on their own much better than what they learn from an educational TV program. You can bring a field guide to identify trees, flowers, or birds or, perhaps, just let them observe the world around them and use their imagination.
3. Go Somewhere You’ve Never Been
Many families, including ours, travel somewhere in summer, but one can have amazing experiences just checking out local newspapers or websites for events around you and picking something that your children might enjoy. New experiences that engage the whole body are the best and live the longest lasting memories.
4. Start with Art
You don’t have to send your child to an art or drama camp unless he or she is very interested in those activities. There are many free cultural events in the summer – we love our Shakespeare in the Park program. Or you could simply find an art book in the library and challenge your child to imitate their favorite artist from the book.
5. Learn a new sport
Summer is also a great time to try out a new sport – either in a camp or with friends and family. My 7 year old is finally getting her wish – she is taking tennis lessons.
6. Find New MusicDon’t just turn on to a regular radio station when you are in your car. Try different stations and discuss different music genres. Introduce your children to the favorite songs from your youth or let everyone take turns teaching others new lyrics.
7. Cook Something New
Not everyone can travel to a different country physically, but traveling virtually is easier than ever with Internet. At least twice a month I am looking for a new recipe from a different culture and make it with my daughter. Not all of them worked out perfectly, but the fun is in trying something that we don’t eat every day, and also learning a thing or two about the place this recipe came from.
8. Pick Up a New HobbyI am not talking about children picking up a new hobby, but about us, adults. Our children should see that we are lifelong learners and are willing to try new things. And if we are passionate and interested about something, they might either jump on the same train, so to speak, or use our approach to new things as a model in pursuing their own passions.
9. Make New Friends
It’s nice that children can spend a lot of time with their siblings (if they have them) during vacations, but it’s also time to make friends the old-fashioned way – by going outside to go look for neighbors to play with. If that doesn’t work where you live, you might have to make an effort and organize playdates. I have only one rule for playdates in our house – it has to be electronics free. I think gaming playdates might be fine for older kids, but I find it rather pathetic for elementary school children to spend time together staring at screens instead of interacting with each other.
10. Let Your Children Be Bored
When I wrote about our plans for Smart Summer, one of my great blog friends Leah from Almost Unschoolers made a comment saying that her children are most creative when they are bored. I admit that this doesn’t quite happen here - because our daughter always goes for “R” when she doesn’t know what to do with herself. But we don’t need to entertain our children 24x7. They will learn plenty when they are doing what children should be doing – playing active games with their friends and pursuing passions of their own choosing.
Bonus Option # 11
If your child is particularly interested in something and you can afford it, a high quality camp might be a great option. My daughter enjoyed science, and this year we are trying Camp Galileo for a week. She started her week yesterday and came home exhausted but very pleased. Galileo camps teach pre-K – 8th graders to be innovators who explore, create and fail without fear (and fail she did on her first science project there). I am a web ambassador for Camp Galileo – please feel free to check the link for a camp near you and save $30 by entering 2014INNOVATION code at the checkout, if you register before July 13th.
Your TurnWhat new things will your children be learning this summer?
Learn Something New Right Now!
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