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Summer Enrichment

By 2018-12-20 23:26:08

No stress summer activities

Summer is the time to relax a bit. The kids are out of school, and the fast pace of the regular school week has slowed. There are more daylight hours and tons of free time – but what about families who don’t want to put learning aside for the next few months? Here are some ideas for parents who want to add enrichment and a bit of structure to their children’s summer break.

Julia Manalac, a 0-3 Montessori Lead Toddler Teacher with Montessori Academy in Pudong, is constantly searching for activities for her students and her own daughter. She suggests that one way to keep your youngest entertained and also spend time with them is to enroll in a Mommy and Me Class. “Mommy and Me classes provide children the chance to see a parent interact socially,” she explains. “This modeling teaches the child how to socialize appropriately with others, according to Michigan State University Extension. For example, if your child watches you approach other parents and greet new children, you end up modeling great behavior.”

Manalac also notes that these early interactions give children a chance to enter situations that will resemble future educational settings. “Aside from the social aspects of a Mommy and Me class, participation also provides early opportunities for your child to learn new skills and develop abilities. Not only can your child learn the skill at hand – such as dance, music or art – but they can also build self-control and reasoning abilities.”

While at home with little ones, Manalac recommends checking out a former science teacher’s blog, Fun at Home with Kids, for inventive and fun activities. The blog’s creator, Asia Citro, recently published a book with even more ideas to keep kids happy and engaged for many hours during the hot summer months. Some activities found on the blog include making a rainbow ice tower ready for excavation, rainbow soap foam, magic puffing snow and much more.

Tess Robinson, Founder and Managing Partner of TEAM Education Consulting Company, had some surprising advice for parents of middle schoolers and teens this summer. As an education consultant, she works daily with parents trying to help their kids develop the skill sets necessary to get into university. She sees the pressure that many teens fall prey to during this time in their lives. For summer, if students are not enrolled in a camp, “which isn’t always the only way,” she asks,  “why not let them get bored?” She goes on to explain, “It allows them to get creative. During the school year, they are always busy, oftentimes getting little out of the myriad activities and having no time to really process what they are doing. Being occupied does not necessarily mean they are getting something out of an activity.”

This may sound like counterintuitive advice coming from someone in the field of educational consulting, but it is not as simple as it sounds. For example, she recommends that parents give teens time for contemplation, allowing them to slow down and have the chance to think about things. If parents can’t abide the thought, they should consider actually participating in an activity with their child. If they need to work on math skills, pull them into the kitchen to plan and cook a meal together. The acts of purchasing ingredients, measuring and timing are all skills put to use, but in a much more functional (and tasty) way. Plus, it offers a chance for children and parents to build upon their relationship in a new dimension.

Of course, summer is also the perfect time to catch up on reading for kids of all ages. Not only does it keep the brain active and engaged, it’s an opportunity to ensure time is spent in a productive manner. Some summer reading tips from Scholastic.com include:

  • Model reading behavior for your children. Studies have shown that children who observe their parents reading will become avid readers themselves.
  • Schedule regular reading time and have kids keep a book list or journal to have a tangible idea of what they’ve accomplished by summer’s end.
  • Take reading with you. Check out or subscribe to audio books and listen together as a family when traveling.

Robinson agrees that reading can be a valuable tool for summertime learning. “Read with your child,” she advises. “Pick a part of the world, a topic or a subject, and read about it together. This builds vocabulary and develops understanding and meaning.”  She also suggests that teens take on responsibility during the summer months, whether this be volunteering for a local organization or taking on a summer job – anything from walking the neighbor’s dog and babysitting to working at a local camp.

Whether remain in Shanghai or travel during the summer holiday, there are many ways to enrich this time out of school. While many parents fear the long stretch ahead, it can be a great opportunity to open up new creative or entrepreneurial pursuits for children and connect as a family.

Good to Know:

  • Montessori Academy, Biyun: www.montessoriacademy.com.cn
  • TEAM Education: www.teameduconsult.com
  • Fun At Home With Kids: funathomewithkids.com
  • The Curious Kid's Science Book by Asia Citro: amazon.com

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