By Mariam Mazhar
Summer is finally here, and so are the much awaited summer holidays. Parents usually have mixed feelings about summer vacations but kids certainly count days for the academic year to end and fun to begin!
This is a tricky time for nervous parents when they take on the challenge of keeping their children physically busy and mentally active during the lazy and hazy days of summer. It is not as hard as it sounds. It just requires some planning, one week of toughness and rest of the seven weeks will go on smooth. Parents just have to be mindful of the fact that it is not just about killing time but about utilizing summer holidays and preventing ‘brain drain’.
Your child doesn’t have to fall victim to summer brain drain. You can make an effort to keep his brain engaged during the summer and provide enriching experiences without even trying too hard. Here are a seven easy ways to do that:
Are you travelling this summer and anxious because you have young kids? Not to worry at all. You should be glad that you are providing your child with opportunities to study geography, religions and cultures. You can do a whole lesson on Social sciences around it!
Travelling gives children an opportunity to explore different parts of the world or their own country and culture. What they had been reading in books and seeing on TV comes alive for them, so turn it into a productive learning opportunity. Plan trips together, look through maps and google places that you are visiting, estimate distances and mileage and don’t forget keeping a travel journal.
No budget for travelling this year? Not to worry. You have a whole world for your kids to explore right in your backyard. Grow fruits, vegetables and all sorts of plantations together. Get them involved in gardening – when they find it has got too tedious since gardening needs patience, get them to at least water the plants to instill responsibility in them.
Looking closely at flowers and drawing them develops the skills of accurately recording and transferring information. Ask them to keep a ‘growth chart’ for plants to track down their growth.
Do not forget all the creepy crawlies and frequent ‘visitors’ to the backyard in the summer! Investigate about the frightful bug found under the rock or the enchanting bird that you saw in the tree. You can do a whole lesson on Life Sciences right in your backyard!
And remember, when you are out and about in the sun, make sure you have proper sun protection on!
Keeping a daily diary
Get them to write at least one daily account of how their day has been. Keeping a record of all the fun activities done during the holidays is purposeful, relevant and a good keepsake too. For young kids it can be a colorful drawing on canvas or chalkboard. Just do not let them detach from the wonderful world of paper and pencil.
Pocket money and math lessons
Giving kids a weekly allowance during the holidays is a great way to teach them money management skills. If you have never done it before, try it this summer. Take your kids to spend their pocket money at the dollar store for new craft supplies or get a treat from the ice cream truck to teach some addition and subtraction on the spot. It gives them hands on experience and makes math a relevant and enjoyable experience.
Instead of keeping your kids at home with your spouse or going grocery shopping when kids are busy with their extra-curricular activities elsewhere, take them with you. You will most probably spend double the time and end up buying some not-so-needed items but it will be a good learning experience for them.
Before leaving the house, get them to prepare a grocery list. If they are little older they can make a budget for grocery shopping, estimate prices and help you buy accordingly. You can do a whole lesson on healthy eating right in the grocery store. How’s that?
Catch up with reading
Reading is a life long passion, make it a part of your daily routine. Assign a special corner in your house for reading. A special couch or perhaps a new lamp will fascinate them, pull them away from gadgets and closer to books. Keep reading material always available, be it magazines, newspapers or flyers. Take reading outdoors or read in the park. Visit your local library to borrow books. Check out second hand book stores or do a book exchange among your family and friends. Turn it into a fun activity and involve them as well.
Cooking and Science
How about a science lesson right in the kitchen? You can teach them about solids, liquids and gases while baking a cake or while boiling rice! How about adding a math component to it by making some predictions and doing some estimation? Math and science can be so much fun and authentic when done in the kitchen.
A little bit of brain work every day can help retain skills and make next academic year better from day one. It will save them from brain drain and will get them geared up for new educational challenges. Most of all, it will help you remain sane and more in control as a parent!
You can also read through more fun and frugal summer activities here.
About the author:
Mariam Mazhar is the Education contributor at muslimmoms.ca. She is a teacher by profession who contrives ways to stimulate her students’ learning during the school year and her own kids’ during the summer holidays