The end is near. It has been weeks and weeks of quarantine mixed with a huge dose of distance learning, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. This will be the moment where families and schools will get to sit back and take a breath. I am not going to lie, I am looking forward to it. That being said, I know that the learning cannot cease. I know the temptation of all-day gaming or YouTubing sounds deliciously enticing, but only for a day or two. Then it’s time to get back to stimulating our children. We don’t want them to forget all of the good information they’ve learned. Have a game plan for what your summer will look like. This idea of continued learning does not need to be overwhelming or stressful. Anything that enriches your child’s thinking is continued learning.

The first step is structure because it gives kids a sense of order. Keep a schedule, even though it may look different from your school schedule because it’s predictable. If you need some inspiration, just search “summer schedule for kids” and choose the one that looks best for your family.

Filling that learning time can be ever changing. Some of the online programs that have offered free memberships have extended their availability through June 30th. This may include some of the programs through your school district. In addition to this, the Allen County Public Library is rolling out their summer reading program on June 1. It will look at bit different this year, but they have taken steps to keep it engaging and fun. This is a great opportunity to start a book club with your child, read the same book together or separately and talk about your likes or dislikes. Set a weekly date that the reading needs to be completed if you are reading apart and then meet to discuss it. This intentional time with them is priceless, even if you have a salty teenager.

Aside from indoor activities, get outside and get that body moving. Summer brings so many opportunities that are not available throughout the rest of the school year, and it’s warm! This is the time to plan experiences with your children. Experiences add to your child’s schema, their background knowledge, which allows them to make connections to the world sensorally and academically. The more experiences that your child has, the more likely they are to be able to connect with new concepts and conversations. The area that we live in is amazing for this. Go to a local U-pick farm to pick fresh berries or take your child fishing (Fishing is free for kids). Take a road trip down to Lake Clare in Huntington and enjoy their fitness park, which my children lovingly call the Ninja Park, to live out your Ninja Warrior dreams. Download a geocache app and become Indiana Jones. If you are not familiar with geocaching, look it up and track down treasure using your app. If you have a dreamer obsessed with the sky, take advantage of the Fort Wayne Astronomical Society. They have free public stargazing called StarQuest. Go to their location and view the night sky through telescopes that have already been set up for your viewing pleasure. Go hiking in our local parks and identify different plants, animal tracks, and make observations of the life that you encounter, including intricately woven spider webs.

Keep the learning light, fresh, fun, and stress-free. It is summer break, enjoy it, but keep your kids engaged. We’ve made it!

This article was written by Erin Hansen, who is a Montessori teacher in the Fort Wayne Community School system.

The Waynedale News Staff
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Erin Hansen

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