School may be out for the summer, but that doesn’t mean your child needs to stop learning. Some of the most memorable and formative experiences of a young person’s life can happen during the summer months. With more hours in the day for creativity, travel, independent learning, and exploring new interests, the summer is the perfect time for your child to develop skills and abilities that are often overlooked in a classroom setting.
4 Tips to Keep Kids Learning Through the Summer
Regardless of whether you’ll be spending the summer with a preschooler or a college-bound high school senior, there are many ways to ensure that June, July, and August are spent productively while also factoring in plenty of time for relaxation and fun.
Make time for gardening
If you have access to your own outdoor space (or a community garden), make sure to add gardening to your list of summertime activities. Gardening is a multifaceted tool for experiential learning that can become a lifelong hobby for both you and your child. Besides giving kids a healthy dose of fresh air, sunshine, and exercise (after all, weeding is hard work!), gardening can help spark a child’s interest in science, conservation, and the natural world. Taking care of a garden is also a meaningful way to teach children about responsibility, as we all know what happens when someone forgets to water the plants in the summer!
In addition, gardening provides young people with the opportunity to disconnect from screens and devices. And best of all, gardening is just plain fun, especially when you get on your hands and knees and dig in the dirt. Hearing a child squeal with excitement when their seeds begin to sprout, or when they pick that first ripe tomato, or even when they discover a long, wiggly earthworm, is a magical summer experience that you won’t soon forget.
Focus on the financial literacy skills they’ll need as adults
Surprisingly, some of the most valuable life skills young people need for their adult lives aren’t taught in school. Most high schoolers take driver’s education, but what about learning to budget or even how to write a check? Unfortunately, many teenagers graduate from high school without the financial literacy skills they’ll need for college and beyond.
This is where parents come in. Take advantage of the summer months to demonstrate sound financial habits, such as paying bills on time, being responsible about credit cards, and contributing to a savings account. For students planning to pursue a college education, getting a summer job and applying for scholarships are great ways for teenagers to learn about the value of money and how they can meaningfully contribute towards funding their degree.
Transform summer reading into a family competition
Children aren’t the only ones who can benefit from making the summer a learning experience. Chances are, most parents don’t spend nearly as much time reading as they would like. Within your own family, challenge each other to see who can finish the most books throughout the summer. At the end of August, award a special treat to the family’s champion reader, such as going out for ice cream or choosing the film for movie night.
Introduce a new sport or hobby
Summer learning doesn’t always mean practicing multiplication tables or memorizing state capitals (although those are important, too!). Instead, offer your child the opportunity to try something completely new, whether that’s signing up for group tennis lessons, joining a choir, downloading a foreign language learning app, or teaching them to cook some of their favorite dishes. While academic achievement is undoubtedly important, so is becoming a well-rounded individual with diverse, varied interests. Give your child the freedom to try something that they wouldn’t usually get to do at school. You might find that they have all sorts of undiscovered interests just waiting to be unleashed!
Engage with current events
While children and teenagers often excel at learning everything they need to know for standardized tests, many young people are largely unaware of what’s happening in the news. Parents can play a crucial role in encouraging children to take an interest in current events. Spend some time at the dinner table discussing an interesting, current events topic, or challenge your child to tell you about something surprising that they’ve read about in the news. Although nightly news broadcasts and newspapers may be too dense for younger children, there are many news websites, apps, and magazines specifically aimed at children and teens that can make current events interesting, accessible, and relevant for their particular age group.