by Lisa Reichelt, Parent Coach
Summertime fun-time! That is the mantra most children live by during the months of June, July and August. It is a time of leisure, less structure and lots of play. What about summer learning? Don’t kids need to keep up on their academic skills too? Summer and learning can go together and they can be fun. “Parenting with Purpose” is a strategy we apply to parenting skills in order to maximize our efforts to become champion parents. Let’s apply the Parenting with Purpose framework to Summer Learning. It works like this: Seek Knowledge, Set Goals, Reflect, Make Adjustments and Accept Guidance.
Summer learning happens in many ways. We are all familiar with summer school classes, summer camps, library visits and workbooks that reinforce skills. These are fine, but let’s go deeper. Summer is a perfect time for children to discover their passion and really dive into it. It’s also a good time to experience new things. Parents can seek knowledge by finding out what opportunities for learning are in your area and learn ways you can foster learning at home. Simply googling “100 summer activities for kids” can result in a plethora of choices. Additionally, you can enhance these activities by adding extensions to the project. For instance, what is the science behind “homemade goop?” By asking children to think more deeply about their experience, you are challenging their minds and stretching their learning. Check out this site for some great questioning strategies.
Goal setting is a great skill to teach children. You can model and teach goal setting by having conversations with your children about some of the learning they would like to do over the summer. Maybe your child is an avid reader, help him set some reading goals and to share his reading with others. Maybe he could blog a review that other children could follow. Perhaps your child loves science. She could set some goals related to her science interests. She could even video record some of her learning and share it with extended family. It is important that the goals setting is child centered but also parent centered. Your children will watch how you assist them with achieving their goals. Your goal should be to support their progress.
Reflection is another skill that children should learn in order to become deep thinkers and better scholars. Having your children reflect on their learning regularly is going to build their confidence and their sense of accomplishment. These are character traits that will serve them well throughout life. In order to facilitate reflecting, choose a routine and a method for reflecting. Maybe your family will pick a time each week to chat about the past week’s learning. Maybe you would rather keep a journal as a reflection tool. Video journals are an option, they are fun and easy to maintain. Whatever tool you use, be sure to make reflecting an ongoing practice.
Parenting always includes the requirement that you be willing to make adjustments. Flexibility is the first requirement for all parents. This is true with summer learning as well. Not every choice is going to work out as planned. Projects will fail, tears may be shed, and expectations may be unmet. Do not despair, making mistakes presents opportunities for growth. Parents model for their children how to learn from our mistakes and move on. This modeling teaches children resiliency and perseverance. Be prepared to make adjustments to your summer learning goals and activities. You will find great satisfaction in being willing to adjust and create a better experience for your children.
We parent better when we rely on each other for advice, support and encouragement. Summer learning will be enhanced when you seek the guidance of others who have similar goals. You may have a friend or family member who is also committed to summer learning. Tap into that resource and accept guidance from them as you offer your guidance. This collaborative relationship has many benefits. You will experience increased satisfaction, you will feel less stressed and you will build strong ties with your friend. Parenting is a journey that is best traveled with many friends. Happy trails!