Just because summer is here doesn’t mean your kids need to suffer from “summer brain drain”. After all, you don’t want all of last year’s hard fought educational nuggets to disappear completely. However, summer is meant for fun, and your kids need a break as much as you do. As a homeschooling Mom, I’ve learned to (dare I say it?) “trick” my kids into keeping their brain sharp during the summer break.
Fortunately for us parents, it’s pretty easy to incorporate learning into the summer once you get the concept. I do so by picking several fun activities and using those as a hands-on experience that is similar to a project they’d do in class or a field trip. This process is very similar to how children learned “in the old days”, and it’s based around experience. Here are few brain-drain busting ideas to get you started.
Use an enjoyable summer activity as an excuse for a science lesson. For example, if your family is into fishing, use your next fishing trip as a way to explain more about the biology and natural habitat of the fish in your area. If you fish on the ocean, use the opportunity to explain the tides, the pull of the moon, and the effects of gravity. If you fish at night, take a star chart with you and discuss the placement of the planets, constellations, or ancient navigation techniques.
In our family, my boys get the opportunity to build things with Grandpa. These summer building projects have kept their math skills sharp while helping to translate those abstract math problems into real world applications. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate building project, a simple bird feeder or DIY home improvement project is enough. Remember, the point is to keep them sharp, not to make them engineers in the course of one summer.
Plant a family garden! This one is easy to do if you are a gardener, and it is a great one to do with younger children. The process of planting, weeding, and harvesting offers an abundance of opportunities for lessons in agriculture, weather, biology, and home economics. The process of planting a seed, nurturing it through to maturity, harvesting it, and then consuming it, is a valuable lesson your children will not forget.
Short, small history lessons are also easy to incorporate into a summer lesson. The next time you drive through your town, look around for old buildings, train depots that are no longer in use, or railroad tracks that lead to nowhere. Often times it only takes a bit of research to learn that what looks like an overlooked, abandoned brick building was once an orphanage from the late 1800’s. Or better yet, that old derelict building with the lion carvings on the top was once a beautiful opera house that hosted some of the world’s greatest performers during the early 1900’s. History doesn’t have to be grand, and it doesn’t have to be in a history book to be exciting. As a matter of fact, bringing history down to the local level can help to make it more real for your kids.