Wednesday, May 15, 2019

5 Ways to Have Educational Summer Fun

Summer is a time for de-stressing, relaxing, and doing fun family things that aren't timed or graded!  However, it can be a time when your children gain the most hands-on education.  Here are five ways to help your children to learn while maintaining that relaxing summer atmosphere.
  1. Plan trips to museums  The key word there is "plan."  That doesn't mean you have a timeline from getting up in the morning to making it home in time to make dinner.  It means this:  Go to the museum website.  See if they have any resources for teachers.  They may have a ready-made scavenger hunt you can print out before you leave.  If not, make your own from what you see on the website.  Check out when they have special programs and sign up ahead of time to avoid disappointment.  Create extension activities for your children to do when they come home to further explore what they have experienced. Offer a reward for completing that extension activity! Here is an example of one outstanding museum with resources for parents and teachers: The American Museum of Natural History in New York City.  You may be in the Midwest, but you can probably find a similar museum in your area within a day's drive.  
  2. Give each day of the week a label.  Monday might be physical activities like hiking, swimming, or bicycling.  Tuesday could be "Invite a Friend Day" where you and your child (alternate weeks for each of the kids in your family) where you and your child plan fun, educational activities for the day.  Wednesday might be designated as "Take a Trip Day" where you find a new place you've never visited.  On the way, find objects along the way that answer specific questions.  What do I mean?  Check out this FREE resource: Summer STEM Travel Fun downloadable booklet. Thursday could be Board Game Tournament Day.  I don't think that requires any additional explanation!  However, you might trade board games with a friend or neighbor so you have new games to play.  The library is a good resource for checking out new games, as well.  And Friday might be philanthropy day where you and your family decide to do something for someone else.  There are a bazillion ways you can teach your child to care for others - visit a nursing home, clean up a park (remember to use rubber gloves), visit an animal shelter, etc.  Find out where there are needs in your community and fill them.  Here is a helpful resource: Helping Kids Help.
  3. Speaking of libraries, this is an oldie but a goodie - visit the library.  Most libraries have summer programs that include story time for younger visitors, library scavenger hunts, and reading challenges for older kids.  If your library doesn't participate in any of these (gasp!) or you live too far from the nearest library, The American Library Association has you covered.  Leave yourself plenty of free time (does that even exist when you have kids?) to explore the resources and set up your own reading adventure.
  4. Cook with your children to teach them lifelong skills.  Today's schools have all but eliminated the expensive Family Consumer Sciences curriculum, so it is up to the parents to help their children carry on the tradition of preparing family meals efficiently.  Everybody should participate in the preparation.  Sound like mayhem to you?  Not if you're organized.  When each member of the family, from Grandma down to the two-year-old who likes to stir, buys into the healthy meal or snack you have prepared, everyone benefits.  To help you, go to Chef Cappy's Kitchen, where you'll find a cookbook and accompanying stuffed bears and puppets to help younger children wait their turn.  
  5. Finally, remember to designate a technology day.  I know that sounds counterproductive, but you can't rip the devices from your kids' hands cold turkey.  If they know they can count on you to not disturb them from their games all-day-long, they will be more likely to cooperate with the other days where you have educational things planned.  As a side note, you could create a poster board labeled, "Things I learned from technology today" to encourage your kids to find something educational on their devices!  Give each child a different colored marker to record their findings.
Summertime is fun time and can also be educational time with a little planning by the whole family!

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