Summer Tryst: Falling in Love with Books (and other productive things) when School is Out
You can still remember that feeling of when let out of school, can’t you? You could almost taste the freedom that lay ahead of you. No more homework, no more assignments, no more waking up early to teachers telling you what to do and what not to do. This was your time of deeper exploration of what other amphibians besides tadpoles and toads resided in and around the creek behind Mr. Franklin’s shed out back.
It was time to wake up and watch cartoons every morning over a bowl of all-too-sweet cereal like Saturday morning came six more days a week. And maybe, just maybe, now that you had all these extra hours, spending a bit of extra quality time talking to Janine, that cute girl down the street, might yield some surprisingly positive results. You would never know until you took that giant, risky, scary chance and actually, you know, tried something. (Turns out Jessica was more your speed, but you would have to wait until the following summer to find out about that).
Yes, it is true that all the unstructured time that comes when school, extracurricular activities, and homework go out the window leave a world of possibilities that are wide open to fill. Now that we are adults and realise a few more things, it is also true that kids left up to their own devices do not always make the most disciplined decisions that will benefit them in the long run. That is the basis for why parents do not let their kids have a pizza party every night, even though they would take that option were it available.
By now, the phenomenon of summer learning loss is well documented and accepted among pedagogues and teachers alike. When kids come back from a long summer of doing not very much, they test lower across the board in subjects like math and English. This effect is even more pronounced among disadvantaged learners, typically children from lower-income families who do not have the luxury of going off to summer camp, hiring a summer tutor, even doing out-of-the-ordinary ‘fun’ activities that might be considered stimulating if only for breaking up routine. They might find themselves stuck in front of a TV or playing videogames with no adult supervision.
With this mountain of evidence that it is a good idea to get young students during their summer holidays engaged in activities that cultivate stimulation for the mind, let’s take a look at some activities that might break up the mundanity and even encourage mental growth.
It is possible to find true love in some of the least expected places, and whether fiction or non-fiction, countless students have found inspiration and solace in the pages of their favourite novel or book about a subject that interests them. This is a habit that could change a child’s life forever, so why not turn off the oversaturated, overstimulating multimedia flash that is ubiquitous on the television and PC and just read a book with a thread that really interests your child?
There are tons of different types of edutainment out there, some better than others. There are games to learn foreign languages, games to practice mathematical concepts, games to learn and remember names of animals. Incidentally, a game like bingo can be customized to include all of these learning concepts. A great example for that is all the bingo sites that you can find here to teach the concept of the game, then get to creating your own custom boards for whatever subject you want to teach or practice with your child.
Kids love to eat good food. Who doesn’t? So teach your children a life-long skill that they will benefit from, their spouses will benefit from, their kids will benefit from, and most importantly, you will benefit from. It’s a kind of play where the kitchen is your lab to experiment in. It is productive activity and allows you to spend quality time with them. Check out our article Play With Food for ideas on how to make cooking fun for children.
We all eat, why not teach kids where our food comes from? If you have the space, getting your hands dirty in the ground planting fruits and veggies can be a great way to teach kids about the ecological and agricultural concepts. One of the most important things to come out of an activity like this is the concept of care and responsibility for another living thing; without these, the plant won’t grow, and the anticipated delicious yields will be a disappointment. This can be an extremely valuable life lesson.
One trend when school is out and the weather is really hot is a migration to a life in front of the TV or computer. Sports and other active activities counters this sedentary lifestyle with something that is also social. This can be a great way to make new friends and interact in a healthy environment with old ones. Outdoor play is an essential element of growing up healthy.
You’ll find lots of other ideas for crafts, play, and raising children in our Family section. Now go have some fun with your kids!