It’s summertime! The kids are home for about eight weeks. They’ve already started to stare at you with that bored look. As educators, we are frequently asked what we think students should do each summer. Should I pay for camp or put my child in summer school? Will their brains waste away?
Here are a few teacher-approved suggestions to make their (and your) summer less stressful (and filled with learning)! These pointers work for big kids too.
Take field trips
Pull out the calendar and once a week plan a trip to a museum, zoo or historical site. Look up your destination’s website first because these places often have maps, coloring pages or worksheets that your child can do while there. (If you aren’t sure where to go, grab an Arizona map and identify places close to home that you can visit.) When you take your weekly field trip have your kids spot wildlife or local landmarks.
Create a bookworm
It may not sound like fun at first, but with the right books your child will begin to enjoy escaping into a good book. Make it part of your routine to read one hour every day. Set a daily reading time that is quiet and won’t likely be interrupted by any other event.
Have your student read parts to you aloud that they find interesting or exciting. At the end of the hour ask them to spend five minutes telling you all about their story. (These techniques help students with reading comprehension.) Sneaky, huh?! A fun game is to let your child test you. Have them ask you questions about their story.
Dear Mommy …
Every night just before going to bed, ask your child to write a letter or note to you about their day. (Younger children can draw pictures and tell you about them). It is very meaningful to your child if you write back to them. (When they read your letter they get in some extra reading time.) Brilliant! As they progress, encourage them to use descriptive words and great sentence structure. In your response you can offer ways to make their story sound more exciting. This is a great activity that allows parents and kids to communicate non-verbally. (You can even make a little book of all the letters at the end of summer break.) Sweet!
Pay it forward
A student’s self-confidence increases when they learn to work productively with others in a positive way. Volunteer at a food bank, library, school, summer program, or church. Learning to volunteer and work with others transfers to the classroom. Teachers require students to learn to work together productively on many projects, and students who have volunteered and know when and how to make a difference do much better. Making a difference in the lives of others also increases students’ sense of empathy and self-worth. If all else fails, have them volunteer to babysit a neighbor’s child or pets, or even to mow someone’s lawn.
Mom’s little assistant
Take the bore out of chore by allowing your child to create an in-home restaurant, complete with a personalized menu … more writing practice. Voilà! Cook dinner together one night a week. Cooking classes are rarely offered at school and it’s a skill every child needs. Hot dogs are an easy meal that anyone can make. Homemade pizza is another great option. Help your student understand the importance of including fruits and vegetables in every meal.
Also, have your kids do their own laundry this summer. (They will thank you once they get to college.)
A summer full of television and video games with nothing else is a wasted brain. Enjoy your children this summer and give them knowledge and experiences they won’t get anywhere else.
• Kris Johnson is the principal at the International Charter School of Arizona. Contact her by visiting www.icsaz.org online.