The 2012/13 school year is quickly coming to a close and it is time to put some serious thought into your child’s ‘summer education’. I know when I was a child the thought of summer was about anything BUT school. Summer school was for kids who failed or had issues in the regular year. I did go one year in second or third grade for reading and once I got over the ‘trauma’ it was actually quite fun and it did help my reading.
In subsequent years while there was always the threat of summer school it never materialized since I achieved pretty good grades. However, that meant the summer was generally an educational dead zone for me. There was the occasional family trip to the Buffalo Zoo, Buffalo Museum of Science, Corning Glass, Niagara Falls, Fort Niagara and local parks that were great fun and sparked my curiosity. Nevertheless, it was really not enough to truly advance my learning through the summer. I’d get back into school in September and be amazed at all the Math, Science and English I had forgotten.
Times have changed since then and as parents we are truly doing our children a disservice if we don’t act proactively and use the summer to supplement our child’s education. There are many options to doing this that can be fun, low-cost, effective and engaging for all of us…including the child. Some ideas include:
Summer Camp – We have many posts on these and how to select the one right for you and your child. Remember to do your research! Camps can be overnight or just for the day. In Buffalo, the Buffalo Museum of Science, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo Zoo and many others have some great offers for parents. The Nickelodeon site ParentsConnect has an OK listing you can explore. In Rochester the choices are just as amazing and can be found at MySummerCamps.com. Of special note are the offers by Rochester Museum & Science Center and RIT.
Community Activities – Here in Pembroke, NY there is an excellent program sponsored by the Town that runs for 6 weeks on Mon-Frid. for 3 hours. It is free and includes a host of supervised activities, crafts and swimming for the students that range in age from 5-14. I know many other communities also offer programs like this. The best place to check on them would be your local village, town or county government office.
Local Library – This is a great resource for increasing your child’s reading and language skills. Each tends to offer different types of programs but most are free. Check with your local branch and remember they tend to have programs for adults as well.
Music Lessons – Music or vocal training can be a real gift you can give to your child. Studies show the imense value music has in the development of a child. Your local school music department may often offers summer programs or you can look for a teacher yourself through the school, Craigslist or Tutor Doctor. Typically you can get someone for $20-$40 per hour. Remember to check backgrounds and get references on the instructor if you hire them yourself!
Tailored Programs – You might check with your child and find out what they might be interested in learning. From here you can try to work with a teacher, education consultant or tutor to find or develop something that meets the requirements. Two years ago we had a great request to help a student in 3rd grade who wanted to learn more about space and the universe. We developed a two week program that met his needs. We did in part with the Buffalo Museum of Science where we volunteered with the student and did our lesson in their ‘Our Place in Space Floor‘. It was fantastic and the student loved the program for what he learned and what he was able to share with others!
In closing…remember to include your child in the process. By engaging them early on you have a better chance of them liking what is decided since they had a role in the selection. It also helps them to learn how to budget, evaluate service offerings, and how they can be evaluated. Also remember that in the summer your child would like time with their biggest educator…YOU! Make some time for your biggest fan especially in their younger years.