With summer vacation on the horizon, the days of homework and tests may soon be over for our children, but that doesn’t mean the time for learning has to stop! Keep reading to discover fun, engaging ways children can continue learning during the summer.
Go outdoors: Observe different types of leaves, comparing and contrasting shapes, sizes, and color. Visit the Arbor Day Foundation website for an interactive tool for identifying trees in your area. Try National Geographic Education’s Backyard Bioblitz, an activity where families observe and identify living things in their own backyards. Or how about growing a garden? If you’re limited on space, consider using a few containers, or perhaps there is a community plot in your area.
Go to “camp”: Camp What A Wonder® (CWAW) is a virtual camp that provides children, parents, and literacy practitioners inspiration and opportunities for parents and children to read and learn together during the summer. To be held June 17 – July 26, CWAW is a special segment of the award-winning Wonderopolis® and is available at no cost. Campers will explore a different theme each week through online and offline lessons and activities, all created to show how wonder and learning can happen anywhere and at any time. This year’s “Uncover the Wonder Around You” weekly themes include: Earth and Environment; Sky and Weather; Structures and Buildings; Technology and Innovation; Travel and Transportation; and Plants and Animals. Visit CWAW by going to www.wonderopolis.org.
Go to the learning hub: Don’t forget to utilize your local library! Summer is a time for less-structured learning – let your child explore and discover what interests him or her. Your librarian can help you find age-appropriate books, videos, and other resources on weather, biology, history, and any subject your child is interested in; visit ReadKiddoRead.com for help in choosing books as well. Also, take advantage of the free programs that are offered weekly for children and teens to learn and socialize. Many libraries offer incentives with their summer reading programs.
Parents do not need to create a lesson plan in order to help their children learn during the summer. All it takes is carving out a bit of time each day to explore the world around us. Exposure to new experiences builds background knowledge in children, helping them to be ready to succeed come fall.
Emily Kirkpatrick is vice president of the National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL). In her current role, she passionately leads new initiatives and signature efforts and shepherds the organization’s continuous growth to address the learning needs of the 21st century family. She also establishes and develops NCFL’s strategic and long-term partnerships with individuals, corporations and foundations. Emily is devoted to expanding NCFL’s reach and impact. Notable recent achievements include the creation of Wonderopolis®, NCFL’s learning website and app for teachers, parents and children that was recently named one of TIME magazine’s best sites of 2011 and “Best Kids App” by Parenting magazine. She is frequently interviewed by national media and is a close collaborator with notable journalists, education and nonprofit thought leaders and philanthropists. Emily is an advisor to Ele, an initiative of the Fred Rogers Center, and has chaired the nonprofit section of the Public Relations Society of America. She holds a B.A. from Centre College and an M.B.A. from Bellarmine University. In 2012, she became the proud mother of twin boys