Saturday, May 26th

Last update02:43:24 PM GMT

Learning Doesn’t Stop When the Last Bell Rings!

Stacey Williams, M.A, P.P.S.

The school year is coming to an end once again and I am getting phone calls from worried parents.  They are concerned that summer signals the end of a year of learning and the beginning of two and a half months of laziness.  This is definitely not the case!  Summer is a unique opportunity for children to learn valuable lessons outside of a classroom environment and away from textbooks.

I recommend parents take their children to the library for a visit before summer starts.  This can be a fun family activity the weekend before the last week of school.  Visit the library and allow each child to pick out a book.  When you get home, have each child construct their own individual progress chart out of construction paper.  Set a goal (either number of books or number of pages) and set rewards for meeting goals along the way.  For instance, once your child finishes their first book, they could choose a book to buy for their own collection from the local bookstore. (Used bookstores are a great economical alternative as well!).  Continue setting goals with rewards that fit your family’s value system and you will keep your child reading all summer!

Another great idea to keep kids learning during the summer break is to enroll them in a class at the local community center, YMCA, or youth center.  Many churches also offer summer classes and camps.  These classes are a fun way for kids to learn subjects they may not be exposed to during the school year and meet new friends, too.  Or kids can use their free summer hours to volunteer.  Contact your local church, library, or an organization close to your family’s heart.  These agencies always need an extra set of helping hands and the lessons children learn while volunteering are invaluable.  (Volunteer hours also look really good on college applications!)

One struggle that most parents face is limiting “screen time” during summer.  The TV, computer and video game systems have a magnetic ability that can suck a kid in and keep them mesmerized for hours.  I’m an advocate of kids “earning” screen time.  An hour of outdoor play can be equal to 15 or 30 minutes of screen time.  Despite what many children believe, they will not expire if they don’t spend 8 hours playing the latest video game or talking on Facebook.

These activities are fine in limited, supervised amounts but they shouldn’t be the primary activity in any child’s day.

Finally, if your family is planning any type of vacation this summer, give your child the “assignment” of being the tour guide for the family’s vacation.  Make it their job to research the location you’re visiting, finding out what the region is known for, how long it will take to get there, and some fun activities your family can do once you arrive.

Summer can be a very pleasant time for families, away from the constraints of the school year.  With some planning, parents may just enjoy the summer break as much as their children!

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