While it is nice to have a break from the craziness of the school year, many parents worry that their children's education will go on hold during the fun-filled summer months. Of course, giving your children packets of math, science and English to work on over the break is an easy way to fix this problem. However, this can cause the words "learning" and "education" to form a negative connotation in your child's mind, making education an evil thing that takes away from the fun and freedom of summer.
The best way to instill a love for learning in your child is to mix education with fun. For those of you who do not know how to mix the two, here are some brilliant parenting hacks that will help you combine school subjects with summer activities:
1. Money and business
Building a lemonade stand is a great way to teach your young children about money, business and advertising. Have them assist you in buying the cups, signs, lemons, ice, markers, lemonade mix or any other supplies needed for their stand. Help your kids price and prepare their lemonade and make signs to advertise their product. It is so fun seeing those little faces glow with excitement as they receive their first quarter.
2. The arts
Attend a local theater, concerts and art museums. If your budget is a little tight this summer, try out some homemade versions of these ideas and let your children's imaginations run wild. Get out the dress up costumes and produce your own little family play. Have a concert of your own, featuring Emma on the recorder and Ben on the kitchen pots and pans. Transform your living room into a miniature art museum filled with crayon pictures, finger-paint creations and Play-Doh sculptures.
Visit a nearby zoo or aquarium. These trips are absolutely magical for little ones and open up great teaching opportunities for you as a parent. Have your kids learn facts about different kinds of animals before your little excursion so they can feel like an expert when they are able to tell you how old turtles live to be.
4. Different cultures
Have every child pick a culture or country they would like to learn about and dedicate a day or two to each selection. Dress up in clothes similar to what the people of your chosen culture would wear. Have your kids choose a different name and teach them greetings and short phrases in the language of that country that they can use throughout the day. Play popular Indian music, make a papier-mâché piñata and have your little world travelers help you prepare a French meal.
Go to a children's science museum and let the kids explore. These places have a way of bringing out every child's inner nerd. If you do not have a science museum nearby, look up some fun, kid-friendly science experiments online. You could teach them about chemistry by making a vinegar volcano, or you could study light by making rainbows with sunlight and a glass of water. There are many fun ways you can spark your child's curiosity for science.
Sports are a wonderful way to teach children about health. Play different sports as a family throughout the summer. Teach your kids which parts of their bodies are being strengthened when they play basketball, soccer or football, or go biking and swimming, etc. Have the kids learn the names of the different muscles and bones they are using during these activities. Teach them that their bodies need lots of water, fruits and vegetables to be strong and healthy. Get your children to make personal health goals such as eating more veggies or spending more time outside each day instead of playing video games.
Go on a hike or some sort of nature walk as a family. Bring a camera, pair of binoculars, a plant or bird identification book and packed lunch for a picnic. Point out different plants and types of rocks as you go along. Have the children look through the binoculars at and take pictures of things they find interesting. When you get to your picnic spot, have a little moment of silence so the kids can hear all the beautiful sounds of nature.
Visit your local library to see what kind of summer programs they have. Many public libraries will have fun games and prizes paired to a child's summer reading. If your library does not have these kinds of programs, make your own. Have each child check out two or three books they would like to read with you or on their own. Make a little chart that your kids can use to keep track of the number of pages or books they have read. Put various markers on the chart where, when goals are reached, your child can earn special prizes or privileges for their reading.
If you want your children to get the most out of this summer, try out some of these awesome hacks to add education to the fun and spark your kids' love for learning.