Looking back on my summer vacations as a child, there were no set plans in place for what I would do to occupy my time when school let out. I remember the feeling of beginning a stretch of time that was a complete mystery. During the school year everything was structured, but over the summer there was no schedule, no requirements, and very few engagements, just lots of empty days. Summer was blank canvas.
Just because nothing was planned didn't mean that I didn't learn. Most summers, my parents would become my teachers. My mom would spontaneously pull out the paints and canvases and lend me her artistic expertise. My dad would build a battleship out of pool floats with me. We would travel to my dad's bicycle races, and I would try to calculate how long it would take them to get to certain parts of the course. One year we wallpapered the wall of our garage with hundreds of my dad's old racing numbers. We planted vegetable gardens. We went on hikes.
Looking back on these summers, I remember how fun it was. I didn't even realize that I was learning the entire time! We were just doing what felt fun, and learning what we wanted.
With schooling becoming more and more structured with more pressure on kids to perform, succeed, and score well on tests, any time spent without being forced to learn something specific can be such a relief to a burned out student. We want students to continue learning over the summer so they don't lose that hard earned knowledge, but learning can take almost any form, and can be extremely fun if we let it. I challenge you to let your child learn in ways that might not even look like learning this summer. Do some projects as a family, or let them strike out on their own. Whatever you do, make sure it's relaxed and fun!
Wondering where to start? Check out these great ideas for summer projects:
Plant a garden
Make paper boats and race them- This is a great activity for any age. Older kids might begin to design their own paper boats that they think will go faster or float further. The possibilities are endless!
Build a birdhouse- Use a kit, or get creative and cut the pieces yourself. Your child will use their spacial reasoning and geometry skills while having a great time building something that can be displayed outdoors.
Start a rock collection
Create a slime factory- Slime is a great way to boost measuring skills. Your child can also experiment by increasing or decreasing certain ingredients. Check out this blog for TONS of slime recipes and troubleshooting.
Create an obstacle course or a water park in your backyard. For an extra challenge, build some of the components (like this fun "kid wash").
Plan a community service project- You might be surprised at the unique ideas your child comes up with to serve the needs in your community.
Create and work a lemonade stand
Write a book- Your child doesn't have to be the best writer or reader to become an author. If they have a story to tell, encourage your child to write it down! You can also write down family stories!
These are just a few ways your child can enjoy some fun and unstructured learning this summer. Did your favorite summer activity not make the list? I would love to hear about it in the comments below!
Happy Summer Learning!