Tresta Payne | moms@nrtoday.com

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June 28, 2014
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The best education for your children this summer | Moms

Whatever form of schooling your children are involved in, when summer comes the overwhelming urge to toss books aside and sleep in are pretty universal.

Even the kids want to do it.


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After about two weeks of this, some of us may feel a twinge of guilt or a case of the shoulds: we should be doing some summer learning; we should be keeping some sort of a schedule; we should be taking actual baths and not just swimming.

In my mind I have grand ideas for keeping up with math and reading great books, doing more art and the field trips that we don’t get to during the regular school year.

The idea of all that is great, but the reality is that I am letting the kids sleep in late and stay up late and eat at irregular times, and our school room has become a place to store stuff instead of the fantastic summer learning place I envisioned.

You could say I’m a summer-school-dropout.

What I find though is that my kids will naturally morph to “educational-pursuits-in-disguise,” and they will learn things and exercise their brains without my planning or scheduling, to some extent.

They will get out the drawing paper and craft supplies on their own.

They’ll pull some books off the shelf or get out audiobooks to listen to.

They’ll spend hours outside, learning about poison oak and bald-faced hornets and snakes firsthand.

They’ll get up early to go to work with their dad – possibly the best education of all.

They’ll pursue interests of their own choosing and have the time to invest in them.

I truly believe that children need time to just be.

Time to explore their world and get dirty. Time to rest for those summer growth-spurts and the change into their older selves.

Time to scrape knees and climb trees and just vegetate on the couch a little.

Childhood does not have to be ultra-planned and packed with activities.

The freedom of summer can be a great catalyst for living well, and no one ever really died of boredom.

But who am I kidding? Summer is also plugged-in.

Summer is more requests for movies and games, more time on the internet, and more whining about how there’s just nothing to do (bored people do chores at our house!).

We have to be intentional about those screens and have a plan in place, or the whole summer can be wasted away and our children will return to school in September with pale skin and mush for brains.

This blog post from Elizabeth Foss has excellent screen-time rules that we will be adapting for summer.

We are also endeavoring to read aloud together “often” and do math “every Monday that we can” through August.

Here are a few simple things you can do if you feel your summer needs to be more educational:

1. Get some fun workbooks for math or reading for your younger kids (try Costco or Staples).

2. Go to the library and let them read Calvin and Hobbes or check out an audiobook.

3. Model a love of learning and read something that you enjoy.

4. Involve the kids in projects around the house.

5. If your family is planning a camping trip, check out the Jr. Ranger Program offered at state parks

6. Give them each $10 and take them to Michael’s Crafts! (Check out the Passport to Imagination program on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 10 a.m.)

Summer is a time for childhood. And just maybe, we’ll learn things in the summer that will make our school year even better.

Maybe we’ll recover a little of the rest and the real learning that our ancestors enjoyed, and our kids will be all the better for it.

I truly believe that children need time to just be.


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The News-Review Updated Jul 5, 2014 09:39AM Published Jul 6, 2014 08:57AM Copyright 2014 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.