The summer season with its 12-hour days leaves plentiful opportunities to engage with your children in fun-filled, yet educational, activities brimming with teaching concepts.
In fact, recreating the classroom at home is not necessary when educational dialogue is woven into the daily language of a family. The natural curiosity children possess is the lead parents can follow to keep them learning. True growth is less about memorization, and more about connecting learning with the everyday experience, which is something I have learned as a former sixth grade teacher, environmental education and homeschool mom of three
Summer months are filled with many excuses to create life-learning opportunities, such as these seven unofficial holidays:
1. June is “National fresh fruit and vegetables” month
Delicious flavors are everywhere, yet the origin of many household favorites may surprise many. During the month of June, encourage your children to discover where the ingredients of their favorite food comes from. Would your child be surprised to find that the garlic pizza sauce is, in fact, derived from a plant?
Take a stroll through the summer farmer’s market to purchase local, seasonal produce for both consumption and experimentation. While there, use the produce tables as a way to determine if each item is a root or fruit. Even more, decipher the ingredient list of marinara sauce and try to identify each ingredient at the market in its raw form before making a new household sauce from scratch. Then, take food scraps and turn them into art by dipping them into paint for a fun and sustainable activity. The possibilities are endless and ingredients ever-changing as the types of produce shift with the season.
Teaching concepts: adjectives, art, food science, nutrition
2. June 29 is “National camera day”
Kids tend to love nothing more than to explore topics, like timelines and sequential order, through photographs of their own lives. Take time to print out images you’ve collected throughout the years. Then, create a timeline of events, milestones or activities for each year of life. Make a math game out of questions like: How many years ago was that? How many years older are you now? What year will it be when you are age 10?
For a greater challenge try: What is the age difference between me and you? If mom is 35, what year was she born? Reward each challenge by revealing pictures of family members during childhood.
Teaching concepts: measurement and data, standard units, addition, subtraction, self awareness
3. July 17 is “World emoji day”
Algebra is easy and fun. Well, maybe only in this case, but still. Just like in mathematical patterns, emojis have a specific meaning assigned to each character. Try beginning the day by communicating with each other only in emoji. How long can everyone correspond by guessing the code? Once communication is on a roll, try assigning numeric value to emojis and create a pattern. Critical thinking skills are firing while fun is clearly happening.
Teaching concepts: variables, algebraic expression, ancient history, current events
4. July 28 is “National parents’ day”
Prepare the day before for a total home takeover by reversing roles, giving the kids title of “parents” for a day. Be sure to create checklists for all that Mom or Dad needs to accomplish during the day. Stock the fridge with meal options the newbie parents can prepare by themselves.
Emotional intelligence is a critical workforce skill for today and tomorrow’s leaders. Understanding where children are on that spectrum, can be analyzed through a series of role-playing activities. Test their competence by faking frustration during a situation, an injury or needing complete assistance to accomplish a simple task.
Teaching concepts: family and human development, individual and family health, emotional intelligence, scheduling and time management
5. August is “National back-to-school” month
Education is a critical resource for children across the globe. Traditional back-to-school preparations in America mean pencils, backpacks and picking out the year’s trendiest lunch box. But what if each year, American students made humanitarian aid as common as picking out pencils?
Consider clothing options which promote social justice, making a yearlong statement of solidarity. Partner with a worldwide association taking a portion of the lemonade stand money to fund months of education. Or even pick up extra supplies to donate to your school or a cause.
Create comparison charts to see differences in school day duration, monthly attendance, term times and subject study. Which countries are like the United States and what differences stand out in a good day? Cultivating a respect and understanding of international culture is most important in the nomadic climate of military life.
Teaching concepts: geography and international issues, empathy and compassion, graphic organizers and making comparisons.
6. August 19 is “National aviation day”
Soar, float or dart into aeronautics this summer. Mankind’s fascination with flying can be an engaging topic to dive into with kids. And so, discover several classes of flight options, all of which can be recreated and simulated at home.
How does canopy size affect the rate a hot air balloon drops? Does propeller size or body weight affect the time a paperclip helicopter stays in flight? All important questions to answer through backyard creation. For additional challenges, notify young pilots of wind speed and direction, daily, to add a layer of factors to calculate.
Also, observe the finest form of aviation by attending air shows or paratrooper jumps in your area. To wrap up the study, arrange for an opportunity to discuss flight with any of the brave men and women passing along their stories at military museums or bases across the country.