It can be tempting to view the summer as simply a long break from school for both parents and children alike. And although it may seem perfectly reasonable to just relax and let the days drift by – especially considering how hard the whole family worked during this wild and crazy school year – by doing so, you’d be missing out on countless opportunities that the summer offers for developing and enriching your child’s well-rounded education.
Whether you’ve got a kindergartener or a teenager, there are many different ways to spend the summer months productively to keep them learning. Hopefully, you’ll find something that sparks your interest (and that will also appeal to your child) on this list of activities specifically focused on summer learning.
5 Educational Summer Activities to Keep Kids Learning
1. Research your family tree.
Learning about your family history can be an incredibly rewarding undertaking for both children and adults. It’s a great summertime activity for older children and teenagers who have some time on their hands and want to get involved in a worthwhile, practical project. Many websites can assist with researching your genealogy, or you might consider doing a DNA ancestry test to really find out about your roots. When you’ve pinpointed which country or part of the world your ancestors came from, a follow-up project for the whole family could involve learning more about that culture, such as its language, food, clothing, and customs.
2. Make some progress on college applications.
For high school students, deciding which colleges and universities to apply to can be a daunting prospect. Without proper planning and research, high school seniors sometimes end up making last-minute or ill-informed choices about what should really be one of the most significant decisions of their lives. Rather than waiting until school is back in session, why not get a head start on the lengthy process of researching colleges, taking the SAT or ACT, filling out applications, and delving into scholarship opportunities? If you’re able to, accompanying your child on college visits can be an invaluable help (and a fun bonding experience), as you can talk through the pros and cons of each option and help narrow down what your child is looking for in terms of academic choices, extracurricular offerings, facilities, social life, and more.
By devoting some time to planning during the summer, the entire college search will be much more relaxed, and you’ll feel confident that your child will soon be embarking on a rewarding (and more affordable) experience at a college they’ll love.
3. Take part in a summer reading challenge.
The summer is the absolute best time to nurture your child’s love of reading. If your child is already a voracious reader, why not help them get rewarded for the piles of library books they’re getting through each week? Most libraries (as well as many other organizations) offer some type of summer reading challenge, often with a unique theme to get kids excited and prizes for reading a certain number of books. This also provides an excellent incentive for children who are less enthusiastic about reading to discover authors and genres that they enjoy.
Summer reading challenges can be especially rewarding when parents take part, too. With older children and teenagers, you could read the same book as your child and then compare reactions when you’ve both finished. With slightly younger children, especially those who are less confident about reading, encourage them to read to you a few times each week, just as you used to read to them when they were little.
4. Do a museum scavenger hunt, or create your own.
Visiting museums, art galleries, and science centers during the summer is a fantastic way to provide educational enrichment outside of the classroom, and these visits can turn into memorable days out for both you and your children. Many museums offer activities for young visitors, including scavenger hunts designed to help children engage more fully with the exhibits. Alternatively, you could create your own museum-based scavenger hunt tailored specifically to your child’s age and interests and provide a fun prize (such as a small item from the museum shop) when they successfully complete it.
5. Encourage creativity through art, music, drama, or writing.
Understandably, as children get older, their experience at school becomes focused on memorizing content, developing skills, and preparing for standardized tests. Unfortunately, this usually means there’s less time for the creative endeavors they enjoyed during elementary school. To rekindle your child’s creativity over the summer, facilitate a creative project before school resumes in the fall.
Depending on your child’s interests, they could write a poem or short story, draw a self-portrait or local landscape, create a dramatic scene, or pen the music and lyrics to an original song. Whatever your child chooses to do, parents can help by providing materials and offering advice and by being a receptive, enthusiastic audience when your child proudly shows off their finished masterpiece.