How to Keep Your Children Engaged: 5 More Ways to Keep Your Kids Learning This Summer

Jul 31st, 2011 | By | Category: Homeschooling Tips

Summer is officially in full swing, and learning has gone the way of snowball fights and igloos. Your kids know school is something they’ll get back to eventually, but – between the pool and the beach and the sun and their friends – it’s pretty low on their list of current priorities.

Last month we discussed five ways to keep your kids learning this summer, and this month we’ll share five more ways you can keep your kids’ minds engaged so they’ll be geared up and sharp for September. But first, remember that the same rules apply as last month: summer is their downtime, and – above all – it needs to be fun!

1. Exploring (and Sometimes Collecting) Flora, Fauna & Rocks

Most kids love rocks, and some even like bugs! Rock collecting is a great way to get a head start with geology, and with so much information available at our fingertips these days, there’s no reason they can’t find and identify interesting rocks for a nifty little collection.

For the budding botanists and etymologists among us, the outdoors presents unlimited learning opportunities for observation and photography. Be careful, though. Lots of bugs like to sting – and some plants may be poisonous – so make sure you set strict guidelines!

2. Stargazing

Kids love the stars, and nothing is more fun than observing the night sky. It also offers amazing educational opportunities, from understanding the moon and its phases to finding (and learning the stories behind) the constellations. Stargazing can be done with the naked eye and doesn’t require a telescope. If you live in a bright neighborhood (such as a city), choose child-safe observation points away from home that offer nearby bathroom access. Better yet, gazing at the night sky is a great way to pass the evenings when camping!

3. Gardens Make You Smarter

Vegetable (and even flower) gardens are great learning opportunities. Turn your little mathematician loose – let him calculate and measure how far apart rows and plantings should be. Let younger children identify different fruits and vegetables. (You’d be surprised at how many kids can’t tell the difference between an apple and a carrot!) Composting is a great way to teach kids about ways in which the earth recycles itself. Let your kids research and learn what different plants’ growth requirements are, and let them play a role in designing how the garden should be laid out.

4. Planning the Vacation

Vacation planning is a great example of disguised learning. When kids think about browsing the web, studying maps and looking for things to do on vacation, they rarely think of schoolwork. But planning a vacation – from deciding what route to take, determining how far to drive each day, finding local events or sites of interest and figuring out where to stay – is a great way to exercise multiple parts of their brains. Research, reading, logic, organization…all are important skills for kids to develop. Oh, and did I forget to mention that you get to take a break from all of the hard vacation planning work?

5. Catch Up On Email…and Family

Letting the kids read and write while reaching out to friends and family is – believe it or not – actually quite educational. It’s also another great example of disguised learning! Better yet, while your kids are honing their English skills and you are reviewing their grammar and punctuation, they are also keeping in touch…an important social skill. Just make sure to keep the LOLs, BFFs and other shorthand phrases in check!

When all else fails, don’t be afraid to turn to the experts for some help. Summer Bridge Programs are one-day mini-courses for students…perfect for those rainy afternoons!

It’s amazing how many opportunities for learning can also be fun, and that’s one of the keys to summer learning – letting your kids have fun.

What educational activities are your kids participating in this summer?

Additional homeschooling posts:

Six Easy Steps to Extraordinary Writing for Your Homeschooler
Diagramming, identifying sentence patterns, finding parts of speech .

Top Ten Ways to Homeschool on the Road
Our Homeschool Road Trip was a mix of fun, learning, and the beauty of God's creation.

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