As summer is fast approaching, many students are thinking about fun in the sun, family vacations, and summer camp. Students may consider it a time to stop learning, but research has proven that if students do not spend any time in educational activities then their learning loss can retract by, at minimum, 2 months. This means that a student leaving the 2nd grade and entering the 3rd grade will still be on a 2nd grade level. This is especially important for students with learning disabilities. This loss can put the student even further behind their classmates.
There are many fun ways that fun time, family vacations, and summer camp can be intertwined with learning.
Learning at the Beach
A trip to the local beach can be filled with learning opportunities for a child. Children love to play in the sand and romp through the waves of the ocean. While playing with children at the beach, they can learn about what sand is made up of, the importance of the ocean to the environment, and the math behind building the perfect sand castle.
The summer is also peak turtle nesting season. If you are fortunate to live in a sea turtle nesting area, you can go on a nest hunt. The nests will be marked off in the sand with information to learn about protecting the nests. Children can then learn about the different sea turtle species, their nesting habits, and hatchlings.
Websites for Learning at the Beach
- Enchanted Learning Beach Activities – great activities and crafts for younger children to do while at the beach or about the beach
- Frugal Activities at the Beach – list of great low-cost ideas for hands-on projects while at the beach
- EPA – great website for parents/teachers to learn about the beach to then teach their children/students
Historical Family Vacation
If you are going away this summer, it is easy to tie in history by visiting some of the famous landmarks around the United States. I recently went on a school trip to Charleston and Savannah where students learned about American history by visiting various historical attractions. The students enjoyed having their ‘history book come to life.’ Many cities around the country offer educational tours of the museums, landmarks, and attractions that include the historical importance.
Websites for Historical Family Vacations
- TripAdvisor History & Culture Trips in the United States – top vacation options including information on places to visit in the top 16 cities for history and culture
- Learning Vacations for Kids - includes tips for parents traveling with kids to encourage learning while on vacation
Many local summer camps offer fun hands-on learning and activities for the summer. Many camps also make accommodations for students with special needs. Traditional camps are typically provided through school districts, museums, and city recreation centers. Also look for other options at local nature centers, parks, or research other options in the local newspaper or online. Camps are a great way for students to learn, be active, and participate in activities with children their age away from the formal school setting. While your children will be learning things that can tie into academic curriculum, they will also be learning social skills.
Websites for Finding the Perfect Summer Camp
- Choose a Camp – Choose and compare camps based on location, activity, or even special needs
- Computer Summer Camp – Camps all around the U.S. geared toward technology and computing
- Choosing a Camp – great website that provides information about the different types of camps for kids and their strengths and weaknesses
Article by Laura Ketcham
Picture by Loimere