Summer learning loss. Words that strike fear in the hearts of every uber-busy parent. Have we languished in the lazy unstructured days of summer at the cost of our child’s education? Will they launch back into the school year excited and ready to dive into academia? Or have they overdosed on late nights and long stretches of videos gaming and TV watching and will be lagging behind the class for the next month? Or more?! Oh, bugger!
What if we could make learning fun all the time without it being forced summer reading or educational apps? Why don’t we be intentional? Instead of “sneaking learning” inside of educational games and activities, what if instead we had conversations with our kids about what piqued their curiosity, what they wanted to know more about, what they wanted to experience and how they could share what they had learned?
Launch an experiment that brings learning to life. An afternoon getting inspired by a Lego stop motion animation video taught my son more about photography than he could ever learn in a textbook. We bought him a camera and he set up space in our basement where he began to create his own stop motion videos with his own Legos. It was so awesome to see him make and upload his creations to You Tube, and Facebook, to share with family and friends. Added bonus, he continued to refine his skills in animation, and his best videos were included in his college portfolio which earned a scholarship for cinema production!
Seek answers together. Make a rule that questions get answered to the best of our ability. “Just because” and “I don’t know” are off the table. Instead, if one of the kids has a question, you can find the answer together. This works well for a few reasons. It teaches kids to follow their intellectual curiosities and that their interests have value, while at the same time giving them real, authentic practice with research. Although the library can be a great way to spend an afternoon, not everything has to be a full research project. It can be as simple as using Google to find the origin of the phrase “getting a Charlie horse” or finding out all the ingredients in McDonald’s Shamrock Shake.
Stop and smell the roses. Reflection is an important part of learning, so create opportunities for kids to slow down, practice mindfulness and reflect on the world around them.
Make getting back into the groove of the new school year enjoyable again. Rubber stamp the mountains of paperwork, that rolls in the first week with every kid to be signed, scoff at the ridiculously overpriced school portrait packages and take your own. Then rest assured those first Teacher’s Conferences will be as enjoyable as wine and chocolate parties.