I'm not a fan of full-year school as I believe both students and teachers profit from the difference that summer months bring. However, I am sensitive to families for whom summer vacation is a burden due to the need to work and the challenge of finding and affordable, positive care options for children. What I wish for those children and families is the opportunity to attend wonderful summer camps and explorations--a chance to learn in different environments with lots of hands-on, creative learning--the kind that rich families have afforded their children for generations.
There are many ways that families can make summer a wonderful experience for their children including the following:
- Think about your child's interests and passions, then find camps, summer programs, and events that will help your child to develop those passions and talents. Note that many, many camps provide scholarships--don't be afraid to ask about that if that will help your child attend these wonderful events. Also in the past, I've worked at camps to afford my children's admission--that's another option for those who have the time.
- List the museums, parks, zoos, nature preserves and other local attractions. Find out if your local library or school offers free or reduced admission. Plan to visit those local attractions throughout the summer.
- Discover local nature paths, hills, and mountains--plan hikes, camping, and other outdoor adventures.
- Think of a good schedule for family life, a schedule that includes daily reading and some fun math practice too such as playing cards, board games, Minecraft, or other online entertaining math games.
- Plan a family vacation. This doesn't have to be fancy, but if you can afford it, one night at a campground or inexpensive hotel with a pool can be fun for the whole family. Day trips are lots of fun too. Public transportation often has routes to all kinds of interesting places.
- Watch great movies together. Look online for a list of classics or movies that every family should see and schedule a weekly movie night with popcorn and a family film. There's also great series of shows available too that a whole family can enjoy or single shows like 60 Minutes that lead to great family conversations.
Having a family meeting ahead of the summer days can help set the stage on how you're going to make summer special for everybody. This is a good time to get started with the planning.