As I've mentioned before, we cultivated a lifestyle of learning in our family. We were always eager to take a break from formal schooling for the summer, but the learning never stopped.
Summer days were definitely more relaxed and the kids had plenty of free time for playing outside and pursuing their individual interests. I think that's very important. I've noticed families who have practically every minute of the day scheduled for their kids year 'round... with sports, private lessons, and organized group activities. For my family, a little of that kind of thing went a long way. We found it worked better for us to keep our schedule flexible to allow for spontaneous activities.
When I was growing up my mother was very good to take us to the library weekly, especially through the summer. I remember devouring stacks of just-for-fun books. The library sponsored a summer reading program with a goal of a certain number of books to read by the end of the summer. I usually passed the goal within the first week or two, as I was a very avid reader. I continued that tradition with my own children. Sometimes we participated in library-sponsored events, and sometimes we just went to the library and checked out stacks of just-for-fun books.
Mostly, though, our summer learning wasn't even that structured. My husband and I have made it a point to watch for and take advantage of teachable moments as we go about our normal lives.
Our family especially enjoys camping and travel. When we travel we find out where museums, national parks, and historical monuments are along our route, and we plan in extra time to stop and learn. My husband just automatically pulls over if we see a sign for “historical marker” along the way. Often we don’t even get out. We’ll just read the sign aloud, and talk about whatever historical event may have taken place at that spot, and then go on. Sometimes it doesn’t even take 5 minutes.
Here are a few of the educational benefits we have discovered while camping:
- Nature Studies
- Survival Skills
- Primitive Cooking
- Physical Education (hiking, biking, pumping and carrying water...)
- Exploration and Discovery
- Socialization (They always meet any other kids whose families are camping at the same time!)
- Reading (A very relaxing way to spend a lazy afternoon at the campground, when electronics aren't an option!)
And that's not mention the great family relationships we are building in the process! What does your family like to do in the summer?