Summer Learning: Thinking Outside the Books


I know it’s the summer but that doesn’t mean learning has to stop. Studies show kids lose a chunk of what they have learned over the summer break, but it doesn’t have to be this way. It means you need to get creative and find ways to make your tweens and teens want to learn. No small feat I know, but I have a few ideas that might work for you.

As a Mom I often find myself lost in the jargon of the young. I call a kick flip a flip kick or fishing reel a spinny thing. Same goes for a whole slew or other topics my kids are interested in.

• Why not have your child research a topic that interests them; a sport, hobby or activity they really love and make a Dictionary of Jargon just for Mom. Your child learns time management, how to research properly, expands theirs and your vocabulary, and may just learn something new about a topic they are passionate about. Be sure to take the time to sit with your child and read and discuss the terms. I am sure they will appreciate you taking an interest in the things that matter to them.

• Have your child research four people they admire or who have “made it” in their field. Why did they pick this field? What was the path they took to get there; education, hours of practice, their mentors, relevant experience? Are there other paths or ways to get there?

• Have your child research four professions they think they might like to pursue. What are the educational requirements, experience, and path options for each career choice? What if any are the restrictions (licensed for a specific area – province) pros and cons to each choice? What are the employment opportunities for each choice (eg: industrial design has a diverse range of employment options)? Have your child find someone in that profession and interview them.

• Summer is a time of growing, so why not have your child grow their vocabulary. Have them look up the definition (ideally in a dictionary- old school I know but a good skill to have) of three words a day and add the word, definition and two synonyms for the word to a summer vocabulary journal. They can work their way through the alphabet adding a letter each day.

• Find some great on-line tutorials for your child to do about a subject they have an interest in but limited knowledge of, such as; photography, calligraphy, sketching, improv, public speaking, creative writing, robotics, model or rocket building.

Ask them to get creative and make a cover page, for their Jargon or Vocabulary Dictionaries, or research journals. Better yet get them to make a video journal about their research and share it on You Tube (right after they take an on-line You Tube tutorial).

I do insist they check their work for grammar and spelling, and hand written work be legible.

Get on those thinking caps and do some summer learning that feels more like play. Maybe you can even do a Dictionary of Jargon for your kids: Mom Speak Translations. FYI: clean your room really does mean clean your room.

Topic Suggestions to get you started: 
• Skateboarding: tricks and descriptions, vert vs street, how to build a mini ramp, or rail, famous skaters.
• Photography: parts of the camera, what is 1080p, effects.
• Painting: horizon, perspective, techniques, famous artists and schools or art.
• Cooking or Baking: techniques, tools, and terms: julienne, sauté, best culinary schools.
• Sailing: terms, rules, types of boats, or take the on-line boating license.
• Poetry & Creative Writing: types, literary terms, favourite or famous poets, SLAM poetry.
• You Tube: what the heck is it, and how does it work.
• Fishing: Equipment, types of fish, licenses required. Fresh water vs salt water fishing.
• Pokémon: Characters and how the trading and points work.

What topics would your child add to this list?

Summer Learning Loss: Canadian Councel on Learning 

Comments (3)

  • Great post Cathy ☺ I think these are great ideas as kids sometimes forget what they’ve learned over the Summer. This is a great way to help keep their minds refreshed and it will also help when they go back to school in the fall as most teachers ask you to write an essay about your Summer.

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  • Awesome post, Carhy! I am getting my eldest ready to leave the nest in baby steps, and learning to cook is one thing we will be doing. I like you tip about researching a profession. I want her to get use to going to the library on her own, and this would help. Thanks!

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