Summer Learning

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School is out (or soon to be) and the kids are overjoyed. They want to run free and waste and whittle away their days. It’s good to be a kid and have the freedom of time on your hands. It can foster a lot of creativity in a child to have to come up with things to do. That creativity will be very valuable in their life. It will help them learn how to not be catered to as an adult and it may help them in future job skills when they have to think outside of the box.

You see, learning doesn’t stop just because the kids aren’t going to school every day. It continues on each and every day as they live and grow and observe.

Kids learn by watching us. They learn coping skills, organizational skills, how to view themselves and life, they learn about morality and values, they learn how to bake, wash clothes, or clean a window. They learn. And it is up to us to encourage that learning.

I have always thought school was important. But I also have always thought that character learning was more important. How our children view others, their ability to give respect, and their desire to maintain integrity in life is far more valuable than knowing how to do algebra – although that does have its place and time.

I do value the time that my kids are in my care and how impressionable they are to what I can teach them. I realize that I have a small amount of time that is an open window into their hearts and souls and I try to utilize that as much as I can. Not just with character training but in other ways as well. Each summer I take my kids to the library. Most times we sign up for a reading program but even if we don’t, they both love to read and I try to encourage that.

There is so much that can be learned through books and summertime is a ripe time for that. I often have them pick out a subject that they are interested in learning about. Each summer I create a list – things like doll collecting, National Parks, airplanes, Elvis Presley, rocks and gems, photography, origami, hot air balloons, log homes – anything and everything under the sun that I can think of. Then, when it’s time to head to the library, they pick out one subject from the list. While they are getting their “fun” books to read, I go and find books for them on the subject they picked out. It has been really interesting to see where their interest lies and to expand their horizons by gently prodding them to consider discovering and learning about things that they might not have otherwise engaged in on their own.

As my children have gotten a little older, I have added to this idea by having them start to write a few paragraphs each summer on a few of the subjects. It helps me know that they are truly reading the book and not just checking it out to appease “mom.” It also keeps their writing skills fresh over the summertime.

I have saved math sheets, phonics workbooks, and handwriting papers from school as well and on rare occasions I get one out and have my girls complete it. It’s not fun for them – but it helps their brain remember what they learned in school so that they don’t struggle so hard when Fall comes again.

Learning should be fun. I don’t think it should be forced. You can get creative in the ways you teach your kids. You can learn on long car trips about history. Visit Mount Rushmore and learn about the Presidents or read plaques from National Parks that tell about its history. It’s where we come from after all and a part of your child’s foundation. If you visit other countries there is plenty more to learn. Encourage them to learn a few words from another language and discover why customs are the way they are.

LIFE is learning. School is just a part of that. So take advantage of the summer and the time and ways that you can shape and mold your child’s eyes into viewing their world. You’ll be surprised at just how fun it truly can be…. And how meaningful.

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