Try the Summer Learning Pyramid to Banish Boredom
Kids look forward to summer all year long—and they can barely contain their excitement in May—but a week or so after school ends, the chant begins: “I’m bored! There’s nothing to do!” Every parent has heard it—but fortunately, you can banish boredom by using the Summer Learning Pyramid to plan the days ahead. Here’s how it stacks up!
A Strong Foundation
The base or foundation of your pyramid—which represent the biggest blocks of time—should be dedicated to essential activities that involve learning. But this doesn’t mean that your child should spend all day glued to a desk! Summer learning can be found in motion or sitting still—and in all shapes, sizes, and locations! Here are a few great ideas to get you started:
- Traveling to new destinations might provide ways to explore topics such as history, architecture, agriculture, transportation, manufacturing, and science.
- Cultural activities could include seeing plays or concerts, viewing art or photography exhibits, attending ethnic or cultural festivals, or taking music or art lessons.
- Explorations of nature could include hiking, bird-watching, picking your own fruit at an orchard, and visiting a conservation center or animal rescue.
- Practicing the basics of reading, writing, and mathematics also has a place in the “essential activities” part of your schedule, so don’t forget it! Check last year’s summer reading list for great ideas to enhance language arts skills.
By the way, families that are considering the switch to a virtual school should be aware that by enrolling early, they can be part of Connections Academy’s Summer Connections program. Summer Connections offers ideas for summer learning, ways to explore clubs and activities, plus the opportunity to become familiar with our online learning system and resources before the new school year.
If your high schooler needs to catch up on credits, or your younger child could benefit from reinforcement of some of the concepts he or she learned this school year, you might want to consider a summer school online course. It’s another great way to give online schooling a test drive.
Un-Stuck in the Middle
The middle of the pyramid should consist of what we call extracurricular activities. These are experience-based activities that will enrich your children’s summer because they’ll connect with peers, do hands-on tasks, and have increased responsibility. These activities include exercise, household chores, sports teams, volunteering within the community, and socializing.
- Home life projects such as cooking, sewing, quilting, home repair, and gardening
- Exercise of all kinds, including individual and team sports, fitness routines, walking or jogging, hiking, swimming, and more
- Group activities such as sports teams, clubs, 4-H, summer camps, and other structured programs that give children opportunities to socialize and collaborate while working toward a common goal
- Serviced-based learning, such as volunteering for a charity, community organization, or other worthy cause
A Little Off the Top
The top portion—but lowest priority—of your student’s daily pyramid consists of activities that, while perhaps fun, add no lasting value to the summer. These limited activities include playing video games, talking on the phone, texting, watching television, randomly surfing the ’Net, or hanging out at the mall. You wouldn’t want to eliminate these things entirely—or your child might feel “cheated” of his or her summer freedom. But be sure to monitor the amount of time spent on these tasks each day—and limit the number of hours your child spends using electronics.
Let’s Talk Time
Now that you know the components of the summer learning pyramid, you may be wondering, “How much time should my student spend on each type of activity?” As a guideline, try to apply what we call the Three, Two, One Countdown. For every ONE hour of total goof-off time, try to incorporate TWO hours of extracurriculars and THREE hours of essential activities.
To figure out how this applies to your family’s summer schedule, start by determining the total number of hours per day you seek to structure for your students.
As an example, let’s say you select six hours. Think about distributing those hours among the pyramid: about three hours of your students’ day would involve those essential activities that reinforce and foster their learning. About two hours would be spent on those extracurricular activities that encourage socialization as well as responsibility. Then, to let your kids enjoy that delicious taste of summer freedom, give them an hour to engage in their favorite fun activities.
Applying these guidelines can help ensure that your children have a summer that is as meaningful as it is fun. We hope these hints and suggestions help you have an enjoyable break—and give your children a head start for the next school year!
What unusual or creative summer learning experiences have your kids enjoyed? Share your best ideas with other families in the comments below.