Learn, the word my 7-year old doesn’t care to hear this summer. At the conclusion of every school year, children across America look forward to unplugging from school and having fun. Words like book and work become foreign in their minds. I agree, they work hard all year long and deserve a break from early bedtimes and even earlier rings of the alarm clock, and the pressure of homework and test. Summers are supposed to be fun, laid back, and not as strenuous as the school year, but if I can be honest as parents the summer also gives us a break from the strict schedules we also face during the school year with helping with homework, projects, and activities. It’s up to us to make sure they have adequate learning opportunities during summer break. According to the National Summer Learning Association, “most students lose about two months of grade-level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months.” I don’t know about you, but my girls can’t afford to lose any skills, we work too hard to allow the summer months to steal their precious capacity for growth. There are some lessons I would like our daughters to learn this summer, not only academic skills they can use during the school year, but also life lessons we don’t necessarily get a lot of time to focus in on.
Here are five lessons I want my kids to learn this summer. I hope some of these lessons you can incorporate into your child’s summer learning.
1. LEARNING JUST DOESN’T HAPPEN AT SCHOOL OR DURING THE SCHOOL YEAR.
Every parent would like for their child to take an interest in learning. This summer I think it’s important for it to be instilled into our children, that learning isn’t just something that happens in school or during the school year, but a lifelong activity. There are some adults who still need to grasp this concept, there are people who haven’t picked up a book since they were in school…but that’s another post. I don’t want learning to feel like a chore or something we make them do, but a choice to grow and develop new and existing skills.
2. TO HELP AROUND THE HOUSE.
During the summer months, we are on a more relaxed schedule and spend more time at home especially during the day. I would like to take these opportunities to help develop and grow their household responsibilities. We always tell the girls we are a team and as members of the team it’s important for them to feel responsible for taking care of our home as we do. For them, it means cleaning up their room without me having to scream my head off and picking up after themselves.
3. LEARN SOMETHING NEW.
When kids learn something new, it builds their self-confidence. I want my girls especially my 7-year old to learn something new this summer. The older children become, the tougher it is to keep them motivated through the many outside influences. Learning something new is a valuable life lesson, it gives the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them. This summer I would like them to begin learning a new language, grow a small garden or even indoor plant, and for my youngest to learn to ride her bike without training wheels.
4. DEVELOP THEIR TALENTS AND INTERESTS.
On a good day, my oldest daughters mention 5-6 times a day that she wants to be five different careers when she grows up. As parents, my husband and I are always thinking about how we can develop those talents and interests. When you notice what your child is good at or take an interest in an activity, it’s important to develop those skills and give them the support they need to learn. Summer activities are very expensive; most park districts have summer programs taught by the industries best at lower costs. This summer our girls will be moving from doing handstands on my bedroom wall to taking gymnastic classes at our local park district.
5. JUST BE KIDS.
The pressure is constantly on children to grow up and to be responsible. This summer I want my kids to be kids. I want them to be free, to laugh, to run, play, do handstands on my wall and let their imagination run. They have all of their lives for pressure, stress, and responsibility. I believe as adults we can take a page out of our children’s books and just be free, willing to learn, and to relax and have fun this summer.