If I told you that your kids could thoroughly enjoy the summer and still keep their minds sharp for school in the fall, would you believe me? By incorporating just a few activities into your summer the entire family can learn the joys of exploring the world around them. The kids will learn a sense of curiosity and sharpen their thinking skills. And you can help them using the ideas in this article.
1. Encourage daily reading. Kids don’t have to read textbooks or the classics to maintain reading skills over the summer. Summer is for fun. Take them to the library or the bookstore and let them choose anything that interests them. If you are going to the beach or to visit relatives for vacation, somewhere you know they won’t have the distractions of home, they might even welcome reading. Give them a fun novel about kids their own age. Young girls still love the Nancy Drew Mystery series. It builds curiosity, problem-solving and strategy skills. If your child doesn’t like to read books, ask them to read road signs, cereal boxes or recipes.
2. Summer is the perfect time to visit a museum with your kids. Have your family decide together on a place you would like to visit. Look up information about the area. Map out the route together. If you need to be more subtle, stop by a museum spontaneously on the road to somewhere else! If your young child is enraptured by dinosaurs, scour the web for special showings that you could make a trip to. In preparation for the trip, have your child explain to you all about his or her favorite dinosaur. Discuss with your child what they might see, learn and get to do at the museum.
3. Help your child to learn about their surroundings. Do you pass a historical marker on the road every day, but have never stopped? Stop and read it with your family. Go home and look up more about it. Is there a famous homestead near you; maybe a president’s birthplace. Take the tour and learn more about it.
4. Visit a working farm, cheese, soap or candle factory. Feed their curiosity in how things are made and how they run. If your child has a special interest, check the web and yellow pages and see if they can stop by for a tour or a work shadow day.
5. Choose day or overnight camps with learning in mind. Camps that teach about nature, wildlife and conservation do double duty. Many state fish and wildlife departments run summer camps and there are many others. Again, your web is the best place to look. You may have missed out for this summer, but plant the seeds of interest in your child for next year. Make it a goal for next year. Plan, read and discuss what the experience will be like.
6. Catch fireflies and look up with your child what makes them light up. When your child catches a snake or other creature from nature, have them research how to care for it. Build a fort and teach your kids about angles and construction. Create the habit of using reference materials to learn more about everything around them.
7. Encourage activities that broaden your child’s perspective of the world. Ask them to volunteer to help an elderly neighbor with their lawn or garden. Set an example and sign everyone up to volunteer at a community dinner or charitable event like a bike-a-thon. For each new toy your kids get, ask them donate one to charity. Caring about others and spending time in service to others is one of the best lessons your child will ever learn.
8. If your kids spend hours with video games, barter with them. And the younger they are when you start this, the better. Provide them with educational software and require that some of their computer time is spent using any of the learning software that’s now available. Not all educational software is going to put your kids through the rigors of learning algebra, although if they need the extra help, that is certainly an easy source. There are numerous computer learning games out there that teach problem-solving, critical thinking and strategy building that are disguised as fun, adventure games. Surf the web for educational software with your kids and let them tell you what interests them. They will be learning without even realizing it. There are even clever educational software games that use cartoon characters like Spongebob to teach kids to type.
It is by exposing your child to sights, sounds and smells that they don’t get in school that their horizons and interests are broadened. Creating and feeding a healthy curiosity in your child will give them a thirst they will never outgrow.