Updated: Feb 24
How often do you hear “I’m bored!” in the summertime? While kids are excited for the school year to end, the change in pace can leave them at a loss for how to fill their days. So the next time you hear these words escape your child, take it as a good sign! There are so many benefits to letting boredom inform their summer opportunities.
Summer is a splendid time for sampling, academic support, and family vacations/fun events. It is also an excellent opportunity for your child to engage in their passions–something they do because they enjoy it! Allowing time and space for activities that play to their strengths, where they excel rather than struggle, is essential for their growth and development. For most students, the school year brings a lot of hard work, studying, and learning new skills and concepts and can sometimes feel like an exhausting marathon of struggle. However, we must recognize the demands of the school year and honor their needs. Summer gives them the gift of relaxation, a time to decompress and find balance. For students, summer provides optimal opportunities for structured AND unstructured time.
To create balance, ensure that unstructured and intentional activities coexist. Summer should be a time where students have more choice, giving them a sense of ownership and pleasure, making even summer learning fun!
What are some ways to incorporate learning into summer while also honoring balance?
Show your enthusiasm and read about places and events you’re visiting to build curiosity and immerse them in the learning. Feelings are contagious- if they sense your excitement, your excitement will transmit to them! As a family, you can watch documentaries, and movies, read, and browse pictures or sites online. Museums are also a great stop on any family vacation and make the perfect day trip.
Get the entire family involved in serving the community in some way. Some ways to get them involved could include helping others through volunteering, attending religious events, activism, clubs, etc. When students contribute to something greater than themselves, they improve their overall life satisfaction and happiness. Not surprisingly, when they participate in a collaborative effort, they flex their executive social skills and learn how to be with others. The same goes for adults!
Give them agency in choosing a summer camp that fosters their interests. When students have buy-in, it will feel authentic to their lives and motivate them to be engaged and involved. There are no shortages of camp experiences available to students (art, science, cooking, etc.)! The right camp experience can provide friendships with others who share their interests, opportunities to develop their social executive skills (reading the room, responding to others, and considering various perspectives), a chance to participate in leadership and team roles, and create lasting memories and experiences that are unique to camp
Give them the chance to plan something from start to finish, building their executive skills (planning, organizing, time management, prioritization, and focused attention). Some fun ideas for planning could be a party, a playdate, a project, or a meal!
Have fun with a mini project they show interest in!
Send postcards or letters to friends and family, letting them choose the design/color/font while picking out fun new gel pens, stickers, etc.
Give them the support they need to work on their Youtube channel or develop their video-editing skills.
Listen with enthusiasm as they write their scripts, stories, or plays!
Watch some family movies and let them write and post reviews online.
Give them toys and materials to tinker with (clay, playdoh, building blocks, puzzles, loose parts). Watch their imagination go!
Get outside, play, and have fun! Learning takes place in more spaces than sitting at a desk or within a classroom; it takes place throughout the day, in more ways than we realize! Your child grows in all areas of development when they are engaged, connected, active, and enjoying their lives with others.
If you desire academic support for your student throughout the summer, make sure you get their buy-in. Anything forced is counterproductive and can tarnish your relationship with them. Over academics, the relationship you have with your child is the priority (more on this later!).
Summer sessions should be:
Brief and manageable (one to three days per week for no more than 1.5 hours)
With an experienced and highly qualified educational therapist or a learning specialist
With someone who understands the balance, fun, and connection needed to create a well-rounded quality of life for your student.
Focused on remedial skills (if needed)
Primarily pre-teaching or frontloading next year’s concepts
Summer support will
Boost their confidence
Encourage active participation in their learning
Give them a greater understanding and meaning to the material
Ease the transition from summer to school.
If you need some help knowing where to start, we are happy to schedule a free chat to help answer any questions you may have. Happy summer!
Written by Jenny Aguilar (M. Ed., ET/P) and Geneva Walsh (M. Ed.)