When I meet with families at the beginning of the school year, they are quick to tell me that they "didn't do anything educational over the summer". I smile, nod, and then ask them if they did any of these things with their children.
Planned a meal
Checked the weather
Worked on a jigsaw puzzle
Wrote emails or letters
Took a walk in nature
Made a podcast or Youtube Video
Of the 13 activities on this list, most families will say they did at least 10! Their children were most definitely engaging in education over the summer.
As a society we have been taught that the most important learning is done at a desk, in a classroom, with an educator in charge. Certainly, there are situations where that is absolutely true,
much of what needs to be learned in childhood can happen organically, with one’s community of family and friends.
Why and how are these 13 activities important moments of engaging education?
They allow children to explore concepts like math, literacy, science, engineering and problem-solving in a safe way.
When a child is encouraged to practice skills we hope they will learn in an educational setting at home, there is no pressure to “do it right” and no self-comparison to classmates. This allows the process to be fun and risk-free.
So, planning a meal, cooking, and budgeting can become a vehicle to develop literacy and math skills. Checking the weather and taking a nature walk encourage scientific observations and questioning. Playing board games, building with blocks, working with jigsaw puzzle pieces, and painting help a child develop spatial awareness and problem-solving skills.
All these skills are important for the growth and development of children, and into adulthood.
My families are always concerned that they aren’t doing enough to prepare their children for the “rigors of life”. My job is to help them see that none of us were truly prepared for the rigors of life. The best that they can do is to engage their children in fun ways and encourage skill-building so that when life becomes difficult, their children will have had a bit of practice and the knowledge that their family is always there to support and guide them.