Summer learning activities are essential, although your kids might balk at the idea of learning anything during their long awaited summer vacations.Whether you take them on weekly library adventures or embark on an epic journey to visit all the museums in your area before September, you have to keep your kids' minds sharp and active. Their teachers will appreciate it, and so will they – it's amazing what you forget between June and September. The good news is that summer learning activities can be great fun for you and your children, so much so that they'll clamor to learn something new!
1. Make Your Garden Grow
Many summer learning activities are easy to do without ever leaving the house, and they can benefit your entire family. For instance, growing a garden with your kids will teach them about growth, fertilization, nurturing, and what plants, flowers, fruits, and vegetables need to grow. They can keep a progress journal, and jot down anything interesting – like the way ants have to feast on peony buds before they blossom! At the same time, your entire family can enjoy the bounty of your efforts!
2. Plan an Ongoing Museum Adventure
Odds are you've got museums near you, all within a few cities. Check to see how many different museums there are, and plan an ongoing summer adventure. Many museums offer free or discounted admission on certain days, especially in the summer. You can try to visit a new museum each week, to learn about space, science, art, music, history, and all sorts of other things.
3. Destination Library
For my money, there's nothing better than the library in the summertime. It was one of my favorite places to be on rainy summer days when I couldn't go outside, and those stacks are wonderfully cool on particularly humid afternoons. You can look into special summer programs, such as reading competitions, book clubs, and even plays or learning opportunities. If all else fails, set your kid loose in the stacks so he or she can pick out a week's worth of new literary adventures.
4. Go Shopping
Yep, a simple trip to the grocery store can turn into a learning adventure. Whether you're shopping for groceries or vacation essentials, take your kids with you. Give them ten dollars and ask them to try to find ingredients for a particular meal that will meet that budget. Challenge them to figure up the total as you shop, and they can see how close they get at checkout. Money management can be fun, you know – you can even get them into clipping coupons, because it really does hone your math skills.
5. Look to the Stars
You've got several options to teach your children about astronomy. If you have an air and space museum nearby, definitely add that to your museum adventure list. You should also see if there are any planetariums close to you, or invest in a small one of your own – they project little pinpoints of light onto the ceiling, and you can even change the hemispheres so your kids can see everything. Another option is to get a telescope and view the stars from your own backyard. You can learn about the planets, different constellations, and defining features together.
6. Learn a New Skill
Does your child want to learn how to paint, dance, play an instrument, do karate, cook, or use calligraphy? Summer is a fantastic time to learn new skills which your busy kid may not have time for during the school year. You can learn something together or sign your kid up for a class with other children. That way, he or she can also make new friends during break!
7. Take Nature Hikes
Nature hikes are amazing all year round, but especially in the summer. Everything is so ripe, green, and gorgeous. This is another activity that benefits from a journal, because your kid can keep track of new plants, animals, and insects spotted during your works. Have them sketch new creatures, press leaves, and identify different flowers and things. It's a great way to bond, and definitely comes in handy at school.
You can really cut down on the amount your kids will have to review when they get back to school. Keeping them sharp over summer can even help them get ahead. What do you like to do to encourage learning during school breaks?