Summer Learning 

Summer break is soon upon us.  This means that students will be out of the classroom and into the sun.  Even though this is a fun time for the children, they still need to take part in activities and pursuits that provide opportunities for learning and leading.  Below are a few ideas for easy, inexpensive ways to extend learning beyond the classroom and into the summer.

Travel near or far – Students can benefit from traveling in their own communities, places around the state or destinations worldwide.  Through travel, students gain insights into other cultures, learn about places they visit and become aware of the world around them.  One good app to locate interesting historical and cultural features near and far is Clio. Clio picks up a user’s location and shows them nearby historical and cultural sites.  Users can also perform their own searches by location or name.  There is also a Clio website with additional features.  A few more learning travel tips…

  • Investigate your neighborhood or town activities. Local newspaper and libraries are great sources to find events happening all summer long.
  • Journal about a trip or visit. Students can keep journals or notebooks that document their vacations, trips to the park or visits to relatives.
  • Read books before traveling .Research the spots that you plan to visit by visiting the local library or researching online (children use an adult for this). Knowing what lies ahead is a great way to learn.
  • Keep a daily diary of travel and adventures. By keeping a daily diary, children increase their writing skills and grow their imaginations. Even if the travel consists of walking from the front door to the back yard, writing or drawing about it in a diary over the summer helps students gain insight into their self-worth.

Challenge your students or children – Summertime challenges are excellent ways to extend learning over the summer months.  Parents and teachers can issue summer challenges to their students by engaging them in puzzle packets, book contests, art projects and writing opportunities.  These activities not only challenge, but offer instances of enrichment.

  • Local camps are fun and challenging. Putnam County Schools offers a variety of summer learning opportunities that challenge and engage children.Information is found at the district’s website.
  • Summer reading challenges are at your library. Check out the Putnam County Library’s website for dates and events.
  • Fitness challenges can be fun! Challenge children to learn a new sport or participate in a family fitness goal. Local parks and recreation centers often offer classes and information.
  • Geocaching is a recreational activity of hunting for hidden objects using GPS coordinates. Geocaching throughout West Virginia often involves hiking and walking and is a great way to get outside and enjoy the summer. Check out this website for more information. Many West Virginia state parks and trails participate in geocaching and have information on this website.
  • Start a new hobby. Students that partake in a hobby that they find enjoyable learn valuable skills that they use in the classroom and in working with others. Some ideas include collecting a particular object or item, participating in a club, creating crafts, baking, technology, fishing, hiking and photography.
  • West Virginia students can participate in the Governor’s Schools of West Virginia summer institutes. These summer enrichment opportunities often have criterion, but offer challenging and engaging chances for the students who participate. More information can be picked up at your school’s counseling office or read about here.

Participate in Community Service – Helping others makes children better leaders and better learners.  Giving of oneself to help meet the needs of others builds self-confidence and self-esteem, but ultimately it affords opportunities to learn – learn appreciation, learn respect and learn sacrifice. Your town or community has various types of projects in which all ages of students can participate.

  • Ask your local church if there is a summer project or need. Most churches offer some type of summer time class and they always need volunteers.
  • Food banks need help even in the summer. From stocking shelves to collecting canned goods to helping “stuff” bags, food banks are great places to teach a child about giving to others.
  • Read to a child or adult. Volunteer readers are needed in a variety of settings and situations. Offer to read to a family member, at the senior center, at a daycare, in a waiting room or with a neighbor. Older students can check out the Literacy Volunteers of Putnam County for more information.
  • Participate in community cleanups. With the help of a parent, even young children can spend time this summer volunteering to pick up litter or clean a riverbank.
  • Walk or run for a fundraiser. During the warm summer months, many groups offer fund raising opportunities where the participants walk or run for a particular charity or organization. These activities teach children about giving and provide a chance to participate in a group activity.
  • Work at an animal shelter. There is always a need for volunteers to do many different chores at the local animal shelter.
  • Tutor other students. Peer tutoring is an excellent way for students who need help to gain knowledge and skills during the summer break. It also provides the tutor a means of keeping up with their own skill sets.

Plant a garden – It’s never too late to begin a vegetable or flower garden.  Research the various types of plants that can grow in your area and their growing seasons before beginning this.  Contact a knowledgeable person to help you get started.  Growing plants teaches children about nature, about plant science and about ecology.  Gardening stimulates creativity and inquiry. 

  • Container gardening is a good place to start. If you don’t have much space to place a garden, growing plants in containers is a good idea. As long as there is sun and access to water, container gardening allows children and families to grow vegetables and flowers. This website gives you more information.
  • Include children in tending the family’s flowers. A simple tip is to include children in the watering of your plants and vegetables. They might not be able to handle planting, but most children can participate in the managing of a garden - from water to weeding to harvesting vegetables or cutting flowers, working as a family is always fun.
  • Plant an indoor herb garden. Using small pots or recycled containers, herb growing indoors is a simple task to carry out with younger children.
  • Grow sunflowers. Sunflower are fast growing and a gorgeous addition to any home or farm.
  • Make a fairy garden with your child. A fairy garden is simply a small space where children can plant flowers, decorate with shells or rocks, put in plastic animals – generally let the imagination fly. Often these are built in small boxes or larger pots, but they can exist in the corner of your flower garden or in the backyard under a tree.

Read – Children of all ages need to read all summer long.  Read alone, read with others, read to others or be read to, it doesn’t matter- just read.  Numerous studies indicate that students who don’t read or read intermittently during the summer vacation see their reading abilities stagnate or decline.

  • Encourage your student or your children to read books they enjoy for at least 30 minutes a day.Letting them choose their own material will make this process more easily attained.
  • Connect reading to a family vacation or trip. Read about where you will be going or what you will be seeing.
  • The family that reads together learns together. If possible, read in groups at set times, establishing a daily routine. And include everyone!
  • Let the child pick out a place to read – then make that a cozy, quite spot.
  • Read aloud to your child.Not just at bedtime, but throughout the day. Making books part of the family rhythm will motivate children to read.
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