Squeeze in Summer Education

Recently, I was excited to have the opportunity to go on WDBJ7 and share insight about how my family has navigated these challenging and unprecedented times. The response to my media feature left me amazed, humbled and energized. It prompted so many wonderful conversations and inspired me with new ideas for topics to write about. One thing that came up in a lot of conversations was how I have incorporated education into our summer. 

I’ve shared before that I have two very different children! One kiddo is very academically inclined and thrives through book-based, worksheet-heavy learning. The other wants to learn with his senses and easily gets frustrated by “tricky” topics and hard assignments. That presents challenges! However, we have found a rhythm and structure that serves our family well. 

I’m the kind of mom that loves having a flexible plan! 

Each week my children (ages 6 and 8) select a theme for each week. On Monday’s, they go to the library and borrow books that align with the theme. Then, we come up with activity ideas that range from STEM-focused to others that are creative or involve crafts. Within the themes there are an abundance of learning opportunities — but my kids don’t notice because they are too busy indulging their curiosity or working through activities.

For example, this week we are learning about the science of food. They have done blind taste tests of sweet/salty/bitter/sour, they have cooked/prepared recipes, they have created menus for their future restaurant and they decorated aprons. In those activities they are using critical thinking skills, learning about measurements, developing understanding of the science behind tastes, practicing writing and having a whole lot of fun!

In addition, I ask the kids to pick a country each week that we can learn more about. This is part of my goal of raising great, global citizens. I want them to consider that not everyone lives in a place that looks like our home and that people across the globe eat different foods, celebrate other holidays and have ways of living that are different from ours — but equally valid. Our local library has an abundance of kid-friendly books about countries and we are also able to use web-based resources to supplement the book-based learning. I am also working to connect with friends who live in other countries for Zoom opportunities to connect in real time and hear personal accounts and experiences.

I have found that this approach helps provide structure and meaning to their summer days while also sneaking learning and education into their routine. Asking my kids for their input ensures that the themes and the country selected are interesting to them. Their buy-in contributes to our collective success! 

Theme examples include: Under the Sea, Outer Space, Cooking & The Science of Food. Between Pinterest and Instagram I have no shortage of options for activities. There have been some weeks that are a smashing success and the kids seem to be completely taken by the wonder associated with the activities and opportunities. Other weeks, have fallen more flat. I’m okay with that! We are learning together, doing the best we can, and offering grace each step of the way. Remember: it doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful! 

I will also add that this structure would not be possible without our “village” of folks who support our family. I went back to the office mid-June and we have been relying on two amazing nannies ever since. They have really embraced this approach and become active in the planning process in addition to leading many of the activities at home with the kids. If you are a mom who has a career outside of the home it is mission-critical that you have great people loving your kids while you are at work.

If you have tips for how you are squeezing education into your family’s summer experience I’d love to hear from you! Comment below or connect with me on Instagram

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