It’s summer time and I’m a teacher. Now before you start berating me for having the summers off, let’s get one thing straight — I am still working! I am using my time wisely to prepare for the upcoming school year … and you can do the same for your children!
Here’s how my family does it…
My daughter, for the past ten years, has benefited from a mom with a very flexible schedule during the summer, so we travel. I see this as an integral part of her education.
Yes, I am a supporter of public schools, but I am well aware that it cannot meet all the needs of any child. As a parent, it is my job to prepare her for learning. I make sure she has as many experiences as possible on which to hook her classroom activities.
As a teacher, I am here to tell you that a child who has seen the ocean is infinitely more prepared to study the rise and fall of tides in science. A student who has been to Pearl Harbor is way more interested in why it is important to World War II. They have seen the monument. They have heard the stories from one who survived.
That’s all fine and good, but what if you can’t go to Hawaii or even Myrtle Beach? No worries. Here are a few ideas to help make sure the learning does not stop.
Easy Ways to Make Sure Learning Does Not Stop
You can use everyday, normal experiences and turn them into learning opportunities. Here’s a few ways how (subject-wise)…
- Cook with your kids! It is a great way to teach fractions and measurement. Both topics that are hard for students to get.
- Go to the grocery store. At my school we had a math night at a local grocery store. The kids had a budget and were required to find certain items on a list. They also had to add, subtract, multiply and divide to make sure they didn’t go over the allotted amount while still getting all the items they needed. The older students even had to calculate percentages. This little field trip can also encourage students to explore produce. Maybe they will branch out and try something new! It could happen!
- Did I say cook with your kids? Oh yes … that batter you are making … think mixtures and solutions! It is a science standard.
- Go to a local garden. I like the botanical gardens at the Riverbanks zoo because there is so much variety. Life cycles of a plant and needs of a plant are all a part of science. Have your child tell you what they know about these topics and brush up on them yourself before your trip.
For Social Studies
- King’s Mountain State Park is a great site to visit. It is one of many national park King’s Mountain State Park and a DiscoverCarolina Site, which provides curriculum-based social studies programs for South Carolina school children. I once took a whole group of third graders here with my teaching team. Our students knew the Revolutionary War that year, for sure!
- Visit Charleston. It’s not that far and worth a day trip. This city is filled with history from the Colonial era to the Revolutionary War to the Civil War. One of my favorites is Charlestowne Landing where guests can step aboard and tour the Adventure, Charleston’s only 17th-century replica sailing ship, see cannons fired (3rd Saturdays and select special events), or take a peek at otters, bears, bison and more at the Animal Forest natural habitat zoo (just to name a few activities). And you get history and some science thrown in there for good measure, so be sure to check those off your summer learning list as well.
For Language Arts
I saved the best for last. This one is easy and in my humble opinion supports all other disciplines. Neglect it at your own risk.
- Go to the movies. Yes, I said it. Movies are still stories and use many of the same skills to understand the story as if you were reading it. The key is to talk with your child after the movie. Find out what they understood and what they did not understand. Ask them to compare it to another movie. Discuss the characters. If you do not have time to travel, this is a great way to get some fun time in with your child and keep them prepared for the rigors of the school year. And it’s the perfect time with the $1 kid-friendly summer movies Regal Cinemas offers.
- The library. We are blessed with great libraries in the Midlands. My daughter and I like to check out books, as well as spending time picking out magazines. This is reading too! Besides it is way cooler in the library (temperature-wise and social status-wise)!