Parenting Win of the Week: Keep Learning Without the Homework

Learning doesn't have to end just because school is out!

E-learning. Young cute little girls sitting at a desk. Using digital tablet are working on their school homework having fun.

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E-learning. Young cute little girls sitting at a desk. Using digital tablet are working on their school homework having fun.

Photo by: Nitat Termmee

Nitat Termmee

Today is the first day of day camp for my kids, although they’ve been out of school for a few weeks now. I love nothing more than summer and the chance to take a break from classroom learning and have them learn and explore in different ways. As they get older though, I always wonder if there are more formalized things I could be doing in the summer to make sure that school isn’t a rude awakening come the end of August.

So, I consulted an expert. Katie Novak is an education consultant who has written many books on innovations in learning and learning design. She’s also a former teacher and a mom, so she gets what summers are like when it comes to learning. Here are some of her tips to infuse learning into everyday life, summer and beyond.

Listen to Your Reading

Getting our kids to pick up a book in the summer may not be the easiest feat, but getting them to listen might be another story. Katie suggests checking in with your local library — they often have an app where you can download audio books for free.

All of those car trips you take, whether it’s to and from sporting events or on roadtrips, are great times to put on an audiobook. Kids still retain a ton of information from audiobooks, usually as much as reading. If you are listening as a family, it’s also a great opportunity to discuss the book or ask questions to really hone in on critical thinking.

Pair Your Reading with Other Things

Your child may have some assigned summer reading, but who says you can’t make it fun? Have them read the book and then invite some friends over with the same assignment for a book club. If your kid is reading a book for fun that was made into a movie, why not plan a movie night when they finish the book. Or maybe the book is set in a really cool country that they don’t know a ton about, so you do some research and cook their cuisine or watch a show about their tourist attractions.

Add a Little Extra Writing

Some kids love writing journals, creating their own stories, and writing plays. If this is your kid, have them practice their writing skills throughout the summer. If it’s not your kid, there are other great ways to practice writing. Have them write reviews of places you go, whether it’s a new ice cream shop or a cool hike. If they are going to overnight camp, have them write letters. If you have an epic trip planned, send some postcards to friends and family.

Work Together

Visiting museums, watching plays, and going on adventures requires planning — and sometimes, finding those activities can be overwhelming. Find your parent tribe and commit to creating a Google doc or something similar together to share cool finds. Maybe someone tackles free museum days, another person handles splash pads and "kids eat free" days. This way, you always have something ready to do with your kids where there will inevitably be something to learn.

Working together with your kids is key too. Younger kids love reading together and older kids can always benefit from discussing whatever they are doing or reading.

Turn Literacy Into New Skills

If you take a moment to pause and think, it’s easy to try to teach your kid new skills without them even realizing it. If something breaks on their bike, explains Katie, why not have them watch a YouTube video about how to fix it and then attempt to do so?

There are all sorts of examples like this, whether they want you to bake brownies (have them find the recipe and help or take charge), want to try a new restaurant (let them research the best dishes), or want to do a tie-dye project. We don’t always have to think of literacy as sitting down with a novel.

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