Yes, I realize that we’ve just slipped into May, but I also know that in only a month, school will be done and those weeks of summer will be stretching out ahead of us.
Every year I plan a summer learning program for our daughters. It’s an activity we look forward to; it allows me to continue educating them, just like during the school year, but at a slower, more relaxed pace.
It takes just a bit of organizing ahead of time to make this work. If you’re interested in creating a program for your family, here are the steps I usually follow.
1. Define your children’s interests. What do they naturally like to learn about? From airplanes to earthworms, castles to horses, make a list of topics they enjoy.
2. Lay out a simple, basic schedule for the summer. Decide how many weeks you want the learning program to include; perhaps you’ve already planned a family trip, summer camp, vacation Bible school, etc. Then determine how many days a week you want to do this; I typically plan for three days, leaving others open for swimming in the pool, visits to the library, etc. This will give you a framework for what you want to attempt.
3. Gather resources. Once you’ve decided the topics you want to cover, assign each of them to a particular week. Then see what books you can find to read together aloud (or on their own, if they’re older), whether from your own collection or the library. Look for printable color sheets or simple worksheets. You may even find age-appropriate online games or research articles to use.
4. Add hands-on activities. Whether it’s making a craft, building a sculpture with Lego’s, painting, cooking, or another project, find a way to let your children actively participate with the subject.
5. Plan one to two field trips that coordinate with what you’re learning. These can be simple – a trip to a local park to bird watch or study flowers, a visit to a local art museum, or a stop at a farmers’ market.
6. Make it fun. Take a laid-back approach (advice to myself!) and see what your children can learn through loosely-structured activities – and even focused play. Lose any stress. If you miss a day, don’t worry about it; just pick it back up the next day.
If you’re looking for some topics, the following are a few suggestions: animals; a specific period in history; flowers/plant life; American presidents or First Ladies; weather; countries (you could get very detailed and do one country for the whole summer or do a different country each week); space; famous authors; Bible characters; music (composers, instruments, etc).
I’ll plan to share our 2013 summer learning program later this month.
Are you making any summer plans yet?