As the school year ends and the weather warms up, students are excited to sleep in, play video games with friends, visit the local swimming pool and more. But there are still plenty of opportunities to learn, even outside of the four walls of a classroom. It’s important to continue to engage students in learning opportunities to keep their brain muscles in full effect while school is out.
So, how do we encourage them to learn in the summer?
Field trips are one way to keep students learning. They can cost little to no money at places like the zoo, museums, arts and crafts workshops, concerts, festivals or even your local library. Consider what you want your student to notice when they’re there. What types of questions can they formulate? What conversations do you want to facilitate? What are common themes in this location? What can they learn in terms of logical inferences, data and perspectives? Going on a field trip is, of course, fun, but it can also be a springboard for new perspectives and critical thinking. The more open-minded and inquisitive students become, the more willing they are to learn.
Starting or joining a club is another effective way to encourage students to think critically. As a middle school ELA teacher, I’m biased toward the writing arts, so I’ve led a summer poetry club to help students develop a habit of reading and/or writing poetry on a consistent basis by training them to find poetry in any topic, emotion or event. This allowed them to have a shared appreciation for literature with new friends. Other options include clubs for books, movies, drama or improv, art, math, language learning and more. Starting or joining clubs can allow children to create a vision and mission, set objectives and meet them within a specific timeframe. Local libraries and community centers often host clubs like this, so start there if you’d like to find one.
Volunteering can be another engaging way to help students not just learn content, but social skills, empathy and how to advocate for a cause. This can include working at nursing homes, delivering groceries to families in need and tutoring younger children. Students can learn their organization’s history, mission and vision. It may even provide interview practice as they apply for volunteer positions.
Hobbies are a crucial part of being a well-rounded individual, for both children and adults! Summer is a great time to lean into them. If your student enjoys physical activity, encourage them to try sports such as basketball, swimming and bowling, which benefit both the body and the brain. Other hobbies can include crocheting, playing an instrument, gardening, reading and photography. The options are endless. Plus, once they become committed, they can turn their new passions into clubs. A single hobby can pave the way to new friends, different perspectives and even career considerations. It’s always great to try new things.
Your student’s summer can be both fun and educational. So, when the final bell rings at the end of the school year, don’t assume that their learning must come to a halt. An opportunity for a new lesson has just emerged.
Are you looking to become a teacher or grow in your education career? Check out the education programs at American College of Education and choose the best pathway for you to get there.