6 Ways to Nurture Summer Learning

Tri-County Kids is excited to feature guest blogger Rachel Thuermer, Director of Dare to Dream Theatre. With over a decade of experience working with children of all ages, Rachel has a personal passion and a natural ability to connect with young people and give them a space to let their creativity shine.. Dare to Dream is an award-winning theatre that runs a variety of classes and performances, offering quality affordable theatre classes to people of many ages!

Summer is upon us! Summer is a time for kids to be active. To play outdoors. A time with no homework. A time for fun. And although it's true that fun and breaks from formal learning are needed for young brains to grow and develop, summer doesn't need to be a time for learning to take a break completely.

Summer is an amazing time to ignite curiosity and encourage discovery. So, how do we keep these young brains engaged in learning and busy growing even during the three month break from school? You are likely inundated with choices and suggestions, and that's ok! It just means finding something to create the spark won't be too difficult.

Right now, many schools are running their summer school programs, and your kids may be currently taking some fun courses through their school district exploring fun topics that they may be curious about. They may be signed up for a summer camp (or two) throughout the summer. They have certainly planned time to see their friends, and will definitely be meeting new friends at camps and other activities. You may have planned a family vacation, or have family visiting you from out of state. So, what can parents do to help ignite curiosity and foster continued learning during the summer months?

1. Listen

Every person learns differently and has different interests. Ask your kids what they would like to do. Keep your eyes and ears open for clues to things they may be curious about. You may be surprised what you discover! 2. Research

Look up the topic online. Is there a program in your community that can help them (and you) learn more about this item of curiosity? Are there similar activities they may also like? Are there local experts on the topic? If there are no local experts, you will likely find that someone you know has some experience with the topic and may be able to suggest additional resources. Check out the classes and workshops in the area, and the summer camps that are still available. And of course, check out our area directory for all the different places to explore together this summer! 3. Encourage

As you begin to pick up the clues your child shares, encourage them to explore the topic on their own as well. Share what you've discovered on the topic. Go to the library together. Spend a few moments looking the topic up on line with them. Reach out to community resources like libraries, studios, summer school programs, camps, and community leaders. These resources love to share and will gladly help you foster summer learning! 3. Suggest

Some kids may resist anything that has to do with traditional learning. They may refuse to open a book or visit a library. And that's ok! There are many ways outside traditional classrooms to develop a curious mind. Making suggestions and encouraging curiosity may take a little enticing, but, when your child discovers something that ignites their curiosity...learning can't be avoided. 4. Collaborate

Invite a friend. Once you've found something that tickles their curiosity, their passion and interest will easily be fueled if they share the experience with a friend. Shared interest is doubled excitement! 5. Support

Although you don't need to develop the same passion they discover, they will flourish with your support. Ask them about their experience after each encounter with the topic. Listen to what they share. Smile as they excitedly share (if their interest is truly sparked, and you are honestly listening, it will be almost impossible NOT to smile!) Acknowledge their curiosity and interest. If they attend a camp to further explore their curiosity, attend the final presentation. 6. Compliment

Have fun discovering together!

Validate their interest often by asking them about the topic and their experiences exploring it. Your positive input will go far in encouraging them to keep exploring, and you may find that your relationship with your child strengthens!

No matter what topics and activities you and your child discover this summer, as long as you and your child are asking questions and seeking answers, you will both be learning. Have fun discovering together!

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