Your kids look forward to summer vacation all school year long. After nine months of early mornings and homework-filled evenings, there’s nothing like the lure of endless free time. But too much leisure over the summer and you could be facing a struggle when the schedules and homework pick back up in the fall.
Kids who spend their summer months relaxing, binging on TV, and staying up all night with friends face a rude awakening when school starts and they don’t remember what they learned last spring. Summer learning opportunities prevent the summer slide and reduce students’ stress at the start of the school year.
Summer learning also lets kids and teens access fields of study that aren’t available at their school. As public schools are pushed toward preparing students for standardized tests, arts, science, and foreign language programs are facing significant cuts. However, such programs are still essential for building a well-rounded student.
Thankfully, there are tons of summer learning opportunities that parents can enroll their kids in to keep their brains active all summer long.
Public Library Programs
Public libraries are a treasure trove of summer programming for kids. Older students will enjoy library book clubs: They’ll get a fun summer reading list and get to share their love of literature with like-minded peers. Kids of all ages can get involved in drop-in activities hosted at many public libraries for little to no charge.
While sleep-away camps are a wonderful opportunity for independence and self-discovery, the expense and distance leave them out of reach for many families. However, that doesn’t mean that students can’t access the dynamic learning experience offered at camp. Local museums, schools, and other community centers and institutions of learning offer day camps for youth and teens at a low cost. com lists several free or cheap summer camp options tailored to different interests, including arts, science, technology, and adventure.
For learning experiences you can get without leaving home, get your kids involved in building something. Depending on their age, kids can design and construct a project on their own or be an assistant in a parent-led project. Potential projects include a tree house, mason bee box, or a raised bed garden that they construct, plant, and tend.
Foreign Language Learning
Knowing a second language is an invaluable skill in the world of business, but language curricula in school is often lacking. When students spend only a couple of hours a week in a foreign language class and cease their studies each summer, it’s near impossible to achieve lasting proficiency. Enrolling in summer language classes let students dive deeper into their foreign language and improve retention of what they’ve studied in school. Depending on your budget, your child could get involved in a conversation exchange, enroll in a language immersion summer camp, or take a trip abroad to truly put their language skills to the test.
For older teens looking for an intensive summer experience, the Youth Conservation Corps offers paid summer internships where students age 15 through 18 can get involved in conservation work at national parks, national forests, and wildlife refuges. Teens will gain valuable experience, make lifelong friends, and get to explore the country’s natural treasures.
No matter what you and your kids choose this summer, focus on opportunities that balance responsibility with fun. Even an educational summer break should feel like a break, so be sure to seek summer learning that doesn’t feel like just another day at school. Your kids will appreciate the time to explore their interests while still being a kid, and you’ll appreciate the eased transition when the school bell rings once again.