By BCPS Teacher of the Year Anne Cross
Parents often ask me how to promote learning over the summer. They realize what teachers realize: without active measures to promote learning, summer can become an educational wasteland. By the third week of summer, children are driving parents crazy with the incessant refrain, “I’m bored.”
Summer is the perfect time to focus on your child’s specific areas of interest. It’s also important to focus on learning that is fun, even spontaneous. The summer provides opportunities to try out new things that just can’t be explored in the confines of a classroom. Summer learning also provides opportunities for children and parents to spend time together. The following suggestions may help get you started.
Children love learning that allows them to get their hands dirty! For that reason, budding scientists will find growing their own vegetable garden to be fun and rewarding. In addition to promoting scientific concepts, growing a vegetable garden can also promote reading and math skills. What is better than eating the final product? You can’t do that with a workbook!
Reading and following directions can be practiced in a number of fun and engaging ways. Craft projects that require reading promote these skills. They also offer a sense of accomplishment and pride in the finished product. Cooking is another way to practice reading, following directions and even math. You may be amazed by what your child will eat when he has prepared it himself.
We are so lucky to live in Maryland! There is so much to see and do at little to no cost. Take advantage of our state’s beautiful natural wonders and sites of historical significance. When planning day trips, keep your child’s interests, age and activity level in mind. Children don’t want to listen to tour guides or be told, “Don’t touch,” so plan on visiting sites that are geared towards children. Rather than visiting a factory where something is made, visit a facility in which children can make something themselves.
Keep a summer scrapbook or journal. Encourage your child to write about the summer and your family adventures. Include photos, brochures and newspaper clippings in the scrapbook. Children might want to keep a scrapbook geared toward a particular interest. For example, a young Orioles fan might want to keep a scrapbook specifically related to his or her favorite baseball team.
The public library offers a highly-motivational summer reading program for our students in Baltimore County. My students always look forward to another summer adventure with “Sneaks.” This summer reading program provides activities and incentives that will keep your child learning and engaged all summer.
Many children will spend their summer watching television or playing video games, but it doesn’t have to be that way. With a little effort and planning, parents can provide learning opportunities that will make it possible for their children to build on what they have learned at school and be ready for a new school year. Learning doesn’t only have to take place at school; it can happen anywhere, at anytime and with anyone. It’s fun!