Summer goes by fast. The feel of the sunburn and sand will soon be distant memories. But with the 4th of July BBQ aromas still in our clothes, there is time to make this summer full of positive learning experiences for the children in our lives. Here are 5 experiences to keep your child active and an adult’s mind guilt free and sane. We also keep the list focused on your wallet.
1) Yard Sales
I know what you are saying, but this is a great opportunity to keep Math in your children’s mind and show some serious real world applications. They will practice their estimates, addition, subtraction, sets, values, and perhaps start or fill their bank accounts. More importantly, it will teach advertising, marketing and sales techniques. It is also a great way to help clean out the basement and meet your neighbors. Every member of the family and extended family can be involved and the larger the yard sale the better. Your children can make cookies and sell lemonade. Their imagination will be piqued at the chance of making cash. There seems to be no better motivator for adults or children.
2) Library Day
That does not sound like fun, but there are great events happening at your local library. And anything that ends up with a water ice and a pretzel can’t be all bad. Reading has to be part of the daily experience and a trip to the library should be a celebration of the books they read. Keep the once a week trip marked on your calendar. Make sure they have their own library bags where they keep their books. This will save you lots of trouble locating them. Let them pick out their books. Let them read magazines and choose a video. It is time away from television and they'll be surrounded by books, so be sure to linger. Always celebrate with lunch or a treat after and most importantly, you’ll have some quiet time to yourself.
Technology is changing the world and how we interact with each other and nature, but the summer can help us be less connected. It is a great time to teach and appreciate the experience of nature and its power to amaze. For less than fifty bucks a day, a family of four can head back to the woods and rediscover the beauty of simplicity and closeness. It is perhaps the only time of year that we are outside for a whole day and sleep in the same room. Camping provides memories and fuels the adventurous spirit in our children. You can provide real life skills like planning and mapping, and provide new cultural experiences like canoeing, campfires, and sleeping in a tent. I can only do two nights in a row before I need a bed, but those two nights provide a perspective of a counter culture that will resonate for years to come.
4) Take the Train
Seems like an odd summer adventure, but for less than ten bucks and children often ride free, you can offer a singular adventure for children. You can take a ride into down town and experience the beauty and grandeur of most major cities’ train stations. You will have the enjoyment of watching their faces as the train approaches and the wonder they show at the conductor. They will experience the diversity of people who travel by train as well as see a landscape with you. You will have a ticket stub for their summer memory box but you will also be able to teach them about time and direction. It is a cultural experience and if you throw in a free historical destination, you have covered another valuable educational experience.
This is a bygone conclusion in a summer experience for a child but one that should not be overlooked for its educational and cultural impact. Children should have the experience of swimming in different water types from the ocean to the pool. But for a little money, a rich experience is wading into a lake. Swimming builds emotional confidence and physical strength. It is a chance to be outside and guide them to what is safe and expected in a substance that covers ¾ of the globe. You can research local lakes and help your child find the lake or a lagoon on a map and get directions. This is an unorganized sporting event that any age can enjoy, but more importantly, it will make them laugh and run to the point of exhaustion. This means a quiet ride home and a rich memory for years to come. It is the most valuable life lesson summer has to offer and the different swimming environments will mean enjoyment and safety for years to come.
I hope your summer is filled with amusement parks and movies, fireworks and BBQs, but as a parent, uncle, aunt, older cousin, or grandparent, a focus on providing rich educational and cultural experiences that are synonymous with the summer months will enrich the minds and bodies of our children. Summer is a chance to spend time with our children and for us to be their teachers. These five ways will provide lasting memories while we savor their childhood wonder for the few years it is given to us.
What are other ways you spend your summer experience with the children in your life?