25 Ways to Enjoy a
Relaxed Learning Summer
BY LINDA DOBSON
Are you a homeschooler who follows a ten-month calendar? Have you grown curious about ditching text books and moving toward a less structured manner of homeschooling? Do you live in a state where the public education process is in an uproar, thinking you might want to skip it all and begin homeschooling in the 2011 – 2012 school year? Do you have a special needs or gifted child? Are you concerned that standardized tests are ruining the joy of learning for your schooled child?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s time to try a relaxed learning summer! With the school (or self-imposed) pressure of schedule and grades and tests on hold, your family can take advantage of the resulting freedom to dabble in learning for…hold on, fun! School attendance robs the time for following what a child would really like to learn about, really like to do, to pursue passions that otherwise lay dormant under the heavy cloak of obligations and schedules imposed from without.
Of course, your idea of fun may not (probably won’t) be the same as the kids’, so start asking now what they’d like to do with the time they have available during the summer months. This will give you time to find the resources required to make it happen.
If you’re thinking you have to rob a bank to afford fun, passion-driven learning, think again. Keep in mind that there is a plethora of learning opportunities available to you (and everyone else) that are low- or no-cost. Much of what you’ll need is available free on the Internet. Other free resources include your local public library, friends and family, and the variety of people who live in your community.
Remember, this is relaxed summer learning, therefore, it shouldn’t look anything like school. Stay away from strict schedules, text books, and quizzes. Here follow 25, mostly free, ideas off the top of my head. Use them as starting points to help your child brainstorm what it is he might like to explore; I’m sure you’ll be able to come up with many more.
25 Ways to Enjoying a Relaxed Learning Summer
Travel (a most educational experience) – travel virtually for free
Start a blog
Write a novel or comic book or song or magazine or family yearbook or…paper or digital
Create a podcast or YouTube video
Apprentice in a business or trade of interest
Catalog area bugs
Create a portfolio of drawings or paintings of your yard or neighborhood
Build a tree house
Read for your library’s storybook hour
Build a boat that will sail
Plant a garden
Learn how to cook
Make Christmas gifts for December
Learn how to play an instrument
Take a free, online course related to an interesting career
Listen to as many audio books as you can
Visit local historical sites, museums, and nature centers
Make a robot
Start a mini-business and make money
Choose a charity and spend the summer raising money for it
Track grocery use, make list of needs, and apply a budget
Track the stars over the course of the summer
Help you or a neighbor care for a baby or toddler
Research various careers of interest for a head start on pursuing one
The Benefits of a Relaxed Learning Summer
Once your child has gotten excited about an activity or three, help him set a few realistic short- and/or long-term goals for the duration of the summer break. Especially with little ones, expectations could be unrealistic, and the purpose of the exercise isn’t to experience failure! With your help keeping goals reasonable, he will experience the thrill of success at the same time he’s enjoying learning.
Without getting your child involved in this aspect, keep a close eye on the learning that is going on, and translate it into the types of goals that public schools put forth for children. For example, has reading ability improved? Did your child build up basic math skills? Does he now possess some important life skills? Has he learned to get thoughts down in a logical or entertaining fashion? Can she now create and/or build something of value? You’ll find that learning goals are accomplished outside of the traditional teacher-led lecturing so prevalent in schools.
Quickly, summer will come to an end and the commercials everywhere will remind you that “that time of year,” the return to school, is quickly approaching. (Excuse me while I put on my homeschooling advocate hat here.) It will be time to decide if relaxed summer learning will soon become a distant memory, or if, perhaps, your family can continue learning together in this way, the same way that many parents and children go through life across the country and around the world. You’ve just seen there is another way for children to grow and learn, and it can be a viable option for your family, too.
Maybe, just maybe, your relaxed learning summer can turn into an endless learning summer that lasts all year long.