It’s summertime, and for many of us that means hot, lazy days, dripping popsicles, and epic meltdowns when it comes time to tackle summer homework packets and reading lists. This is the plight of so many parents: you know your kids deserve a break from the structure of school, but you also don’t want them to forget their structure and lessons when they return to the school routine. I chatted with a group of four educators and we came up with this list of Three Steps to Summer (School) Success!
Step 1: Create Consistency
Kids do deserve a break during summer vacation, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a free-for-all! The educators I spoke with all strongly suggested carving out space for consistency and routine throughout your summer. Across the board, children of all ages crave predictable boundaries and routines. Whether that comes in the form of scheduled summer camp and pre-planned excursions or an hour of quiet learning each afternoon, creating both weekly and daily routines is a huge benefit for children. Also, never underestimate the power of a calendar! These visual learning tools are useful for children of all ages – from pre-verbal schedules that use images to middle schoolers who can create their own, calendars are great reminders of the flow of your family’s day-to-day life and can help ease the anticipation of “what happens next?”.
Step 2: Curate Curiosity
The freedom of summer is the perfect time to create space for learning. That’s the beauty of childhood education: almost anything can be turned into an educational experience if you help your child approach the world with curiosity. Headed to the beach? Hit the library first and stock up on kid-friendly animal encyclopedias to look at in the car, encourage them to sort shells or seaweed they collect, or ask them to draw the biggest sea monster they can imagine. You can follow up on this at home by creating art out of those collected shells, or by talking more about ocean animals while in the pool or tub. If you take a trip into the city, talk about the architecture you notice – discussing the shapes, lines, and different architectural styles covers spatial awareness, geometry, math, and art. If architecture is something they’re interested in, pick up on it at home by drawing blueprints of the house, mapping out their dream neighborhood, and building cities out of blocks.
Step 3: Spotlight their learning
Psychologists agree that one way to nurture a life-long love of learning in your children is to make sure to create positive associations with education. When kids are out of school in summer, you can keep them excited about what they are learning by spotlighting their continuing achievements. Create a beautiful space on your walls for an art gallery, encourage dramatic performances or impromptu book reports over dinner, or jump on Zoom and give your children space to show off what they’re learning to family far away.
Summer is the perfect time to relax and decompress after a long school year. Kids should still get to be kids! But by building in routine, making learning a natural part of your daily life, and keeping your children excited about what they are learning, you can support an easier transition back to school while still having a relaxing and enjoyable summer together.