Summer vacations are great for family outings, picnics and forgetting nearly everything that was learned during the previous school term. There is no reason why learning should be lost or neglected over the summer. Summer provides a wealth of learning opportunities for families to enjoy together.
Use allowances to improve math skills
Math skills are easily lost without regular use. Providing your child with opportunities to earn an allowance not only gives them pocket money and a sense of responsibility, but it can be used to reinforce those math skills. For young children, use a coin jar and have them count out their own allowance. For older children, help them develop skills at budgeting and saving for those highly coveted video games and designer clothes.
Explore the natural world
Zoos, beaches and national parks all provide affordable ways of continuing to learn about the natural world and science. Many zoos offer volunteer docent positions for older teens and a visit to your local county fair can create valuable family memories while encouraging learning.
Experience history at a Renaissance Faire
History can be a very dry subject when taught in the classroom. Attending a local Renaissance Faire can bring history alive for the entire family. Costumes, foods, live theater and unique items for sale can inspire a child’s interest in other areas of history, and who doesn’t want to dress up like a jester?
Try sports camp
Except for varsity students, school sports are often relegated to physical education class, with all of its peer pressure, tight schedules and overcrowding. Help your child learn how to better use their body, interact with others and develop physical fitness habits by enrolling them in a sports camp.
Join a book club
Hot summer days lend themselves to enjoying a good book in an air-conditioned room. Many book stores and libraries offer summer book clubs for children of all ages. Not only will your child’s reading skills improve, but the book discussions help them develop comprehension and analysis skills, and they may even make a few new friends in the process!
Plant a garden or visit a farm
Even apartment dwellers can make room for a small garden with just a little bit of planning. Planning and planting a garden teaches many life science skills and nothing tastes better than when grown at home! Also, many communities have farms that are open to the public for educational purposes. Children can try their hand at milking a cow, churning butter or harvesting crops. Pick-your-own produce farms provide an excellent source of fresh fruits and vegetables while teaching children about how plants grow and where their food comes from.
Explore government offices
Political science and citizenship can be boosted by visiting local government offices, attending city council meetings and, if you live close enough, touring some of your state’s grand old government buildings, with their ornate architecture, displays and memorabilia.
Refinish an old piece of furniture
Not all learning is academic. Learning a new skill often develops problem-solving, higher thinking and improved evaluative skills that will serve your child in many other ways. Such tasks might be to refinish an old piece of furniture from your home. A trip to the library can provide some history and basic refinishing instructions. Basic supplies are readily available at local hardware stores. The finished product is sure to be a source of pride, as well as learning, for your child.
Take a cooking class
Everybody eats and cooking classes are an excellent way to spend productive time with your child while helping them gain useful skills. Cooking is an exercise in chemistry and a well taught cooking class can teach far more than how to simply boil water. Meal planning, selecting ingredients, measuring and creating a delicious meal for the family is an excellent way to learn while having fun.
There are many ways to keep kids learning over summer vacation. Who knows, you may learn a few things yourself!