Frank Schofield, superintendent, Logan City School District
Summer can provide a much-needed break from the routine and work of the school year, both for parents and children. The weather and change in routines allow for several opportunities for parents and children to engage in extended learning activities that reinforce concepts learned during the school year, as well as ensure that knowledge and skills developed during the school year are preserved for the next grade. The extended opportunities may be indoors or outdoors, and can create exciting possibilities for students to see how what they have learned in school can be used in the world around them. Some simple ideas include the following:
- Grow a vegetable garden. The staff at GreatSchools.org have this to say about the learning opportunities that exist in the garden, “What better way to learn the basics of science and how things grow than to plant your own garden? You can start with seeds or small plants. Talk about what plants need to be hardy: air, water, sunlight, and nutrients. Vegetables are especially fun and educational to plant because your child will learn where food comes from and will also get to eat the end product.”
- Create a family adventure scrapbook. A family vacation is a perfect opportunity to create a scrapbook that will be a lasting souvenir of family adventures. Collect postcards, brochures, and menus from restaurants and tourist attractions. Encourage your child to write descriptions of the places you visited and tell stories about your family’s experiences.
- Turn a museum trip into a treasure hunt. Get your children excited about visiting a museum by exploring the museum’s website and taking a virtual tour. When you go to a museum, take into account short attention spans and don’t try to cover a whole museum in one day. Turn your museum trip into a treasure hunt by trying to find specific paintings or objects in the museum. Look for interactive exhibits and for periods of history that your child has studied in school.
- Pick a weekly opportunity to “do good.” The flexibility of the summer schedule makes it ideal for performing voluntary services for others. Giving service helps children learn respect for others, become more patient, and develop new skills. Service opportunities can be large (i.e. volunteer in a soup kitchen) or small (i.e. offer to walk the neighbor’s dog). Either way, finding a weekly chance to do something nice for other helps students develop social-emotional skills that promote the life-long success, including in school.
- Build something. Hands-on activities are a great way to help children develop and express their creativity. Designing and building items promotes planning, problem solving, and persistence. Although there are many ways to promote this, a homemade “Maker Space” can provide a simple, structured place to promote these kinds of activities. Just like parents may have a workshop or a craft room, a maker space creates a specific place where a child’s imagination and creativity can be applied in any number of ways. For information on how to set up your own maker space, go to instructables.com/id/Create-a-Maker-Space-for-Kids.