Welcome to Teacher Tuesday! To kick start the series we have Amy Mascott of TeachMama joining us today. Amy will be discussing how to keep summer learning fun and engaging for parents and kids alike. Thanks Amy!
Making Summertime Learning Fun, Fresh, and Priority #1
By Amy Mascott of TeachMama
And that’s coming from the parents—not necessarily the kids.
Though I was indeed doing a jig of joy alongside my mom-pals (really, tell me who loves that kind of homework?), I also wanted to do a little dance to the tune of: Hey! Let’s get excited about all of the cool, family-friendly, fun and totally fabulous ways we can sneak in some learning for our kids during the summer! Yaaa-hoooo! But I didn’t. Because I didn’t want to totally embarrass my kids.
Though I know it’s not every parent’s cup of tea, the reality is that our job as homework helpers and education partners can’t stop in June, just because school’s out. Now’s the time when we as parents can really step in and show our kids what we’ve got. We can make learning fun by trying on a ‘new’ hat, one that many are unfamiliar with—or uncomfortable with: the teacher hat.
And no, this isn’t a big, nerdy, bright red apple hat that has ‘summer workbooks’ written all over it. It’s far from that. This is that teacher hat that doubles as an explorer hat, an artist’s hat, a writer, engineer, and dreamer hat. It’s a hat that all parents can wear comfortably once they find the right fit.
It takes a little thinking outside the box some days to make summertime learning fun, but it’s possible, and it’s worth it.
It doesn’t have to be an every single summer day thing, but it should become a regular, anticipated event with your children, whether it’s as simple as reading together in the air conditioned comfort on the couch first thing in the morning or as involved as packing up the troops and taking a family hike.
Have you ever painted with candy? Made s'mores using the sun or ice-cream in a plastic ziplock bag? It’s all pretty easy—and kids love it. With a tiny bit of prep and some easy-to-find ingredients, your kids can conduct physics experiments right in your own home.
Do your kids like hide-and-seek? Then grab a set of alphabet cards and hide the uppercase letters in your back yard. Put them on trees, in bushes, on the playset, and in your pansies. When you say ‘Go!’ send your kids on a mad scramble for letters, and make sure they yell at the top of their lungs each letter they find. Have them match the uppercase letter to its lowercase pal that’s hanging on your clothesline or sitting on the table.
If they want playdates, have your kids send postcards to their buddies and plan an at-home activity. It gets them writing, preparing, and creatively thinking.
Make literature really come to life by reading a book together and then renting the film version of the book. From Charlotte’s Web to Holes or even the Franklin or Arthur series, you can find almost anything your heart desires. And what a way to get children thinking critically about the differences between text and film!
Do your kids think about playing Wii or computer games all day long? I get that—but have them create a bar graph for the games they play each week and then sit with them to assess their ‘screen time’ in a pie chart. Guide them through the creation of a blog written from the point of view of one of their favorite video game characters, or have them write about the character’s back story. How cool would that be?
It’s only a start—only a few ways of sneaking in some learning during the lazy summer months-- but the possibilities are endless. Not only will your kids thank you for the time you spend with them, but I’m betting the memories you make will last your whole family a lifetime.
Want some more super-cool summertime learning ideas? Head over to we teach--the online forum for parents to learn from each other, share ideas, and grow as educators for their children--and download a copy of the free we teach summertime learning eBook. Packed with tons of ideas from fabulous, talented teachers and parents, you’re bound to find other great ways of throwing in some summertime learning.
And please consider joining MaryLea Harris of Pink and Green Mama and Candace Lindemann of Naturally Educational, and me, in our 6-week Smart Summer Challenge. We’ve prepared an awesome calendar of sample ideas, aimed at children K-3, with adaptations for preschoolers and upper elementary students, and we are challenging every parent to incorporate at least one learning activity into their child’s day over the summer vacation.
Amy is the creator of teach mama, a site that paves the way for a modern lifestyle of learning, empowering parents to take a stronger role in supporting their children’s education through games and play. Amy is also the creator of we teach a forum for parents and teachers to connect, share ideas, and grow into better educators—no matter the classroom. A Reading Specialist, Literacy Consultant, freelance writer, and mom to a crazy-cool 7, 5, and 4-year-old. Amy’s work has been featured on dozens of online and print publications. She is a contributor for both Scholastic’s Parents Online and PBS Parents, a columnist for Rockville Patch, and an active member of the Yahoo! Mother Board. Amy is a member of The DC Moms, and when she’s not offering parents cool ideas and resources during speaking engagements, she’s working on her book, tweeting or hanging out on Facebook.