June is around the corner, and the kids will be out of school! A time to sleep in, relax and have fun right?
As fun as that sounds for students, for us parents, it can be a dreaded time if there is no summer plan. Without babysitter support, it can make matters worse.
Productive summer planning requires research time, budget review (some camps can be pricey), and transportation support if you are working, a student, and perhaps a single parent doing it all.
From my past experience, I can tell you the years I made it a point to plan my daughter’s summers, was when she developed skills, new interests and came to the realization that she was a talented artist early in elementary school. She attended art camps and a couple of writing camps at Cal State LA before she was 10 years old. As a teenager I kept her her busy doing volunteer work for charities, visiting colleges with her nina, and working part-time in an office environment.
Then, there were a few summers that sneaked up on me, and I had no plan. I remember my days at work felt so long, and I was worried about what she was doing all day. Those summers were far from productive, as she watched TV all day, lounged as she called it, and of course kept busy on social media. Many heated discussions took place those summers, and we both learned some tough lessons.
I found the early teenage years were the most challenging during the summer months. I wanted her to to relax and enjoy her time off, but I learned no summer agenda resulted into two things we should avoid.
- One: Boredom, which can lead to mischievous behavior
- Two: Lack of brain stimulation
Did you create a summer plan for your child already? If you are struggling with ideas, I will share some.Some suggestions were passed down by a few of my current professors who are also parents.
First, you can still check out traditional summer camps to see if there is availability and don’t forget to ask about financial aid, many do offer assistance. You can try looking on your city’s parks and recreation, local library website, LA County parks and recreation, YMCA, Kids camps (Robotics & Coding), Mommy poppins, take summer session classes at ELAC or any community college near you, and another good one is Los Angeles Mad Science.
If you don’t have much luck with a camp or if you will only do a short camp and your child/children will stay at home with supervision, here are some tasks suggested (keeping electronic devices and TV use to a minimum).
Young age children (K-3rd grade):
Let your child have access to paint, crayons, paper, glue, clay on a daily basis. Ask your child to create pieces for you to take to work, for other family members, and to decorate the house. Ask them to do 2-3 pieces a week if possible. Music, is Art too; learning how to play an instrument or simply experiment with instruments of interest could be fun too.
Have your babysitter take your child go to the public library on a weekly basis, at the very minimum. Some libraries have group reading time. If transportation is a challenge, a morning walk can be fun and don’t rule out public transportation (most kids see this as an adventure). Have them log every book read with number of pages.
Have them write and draw about their weekly readings. Create a Journal for your child to write and draw in. Have your child log their daily activities and meals, either by drawing and or writing if they are writing on their own. Have them share their entry at the end of the day when you put them to bed.
Assign them one project of their choice; you can present them with ideas such as creating a summer book of their own, building a boat or house out of cardboard or things found around the house.
You can also search on youtube for kid friendly science experiments. Give them a due date and a timeline to measure their progress. Remember to always ask your child for any work you assign, review it and provide feedback. You will be teaching them responsibility, accountability, and will be showing them you care about what they are doing.
4th grade-High school
You can definitely use the fundamental ideas mentioned above, but you will want to step it up a notch in the following manner:
Assign them a book list according to their entering grade, perhaps you can ask at their school (most schools have lists available). Encourage them to take on projects of their interest and grade level; this helps builds personal passions.
My history professor recommended all kids should learn about their own family history, culture, ancestors, historic leaders, legends, and recipes. The only way this will happen is if the family makes it a priority.
Let’s face it the K-12 system teaches our students what they want and for the most part it is biased without facts for example the traditional “the discovery of America” bologna. Have your student read about their own history and trace their roots. This means that you will need to help them look for the right books.
Make learning about their history fun! Give them some ideas on how to go about their research, show them the oldest pictures you access, and have them interview eldest living relatives (skype/phone). Having your children learn the real deal at a young age will teach them to be proud of their heritage, and I am almost sure they will thank you.
Expose your kids to a variety college campuses early on, try scheduling tours.
For middle school students, challenge them to read at least 140 pages a week (20 pages a day). Assign them a book report every 2 weeks, and not a summary; assign them questions that will have them think critically. Collect and read their work. Keep in mind you should know what the books are about too so that you can provide feedback.
By high school, students should:
- Take at least a few college courses at the local community college, students can actually enroll into classes at the age of 12. This can help their GPA and/or allow them to have credit when they enter college. Summer sessions are a great way to start.
- Doing volunteer work is a great way to get involved in your community and to satisfy community service requirements at school and can help on scholarship applications.
- Don’t leave out reading at least 200 pages a week to enhance vocabulary and writing about books read (dig into college level readings). CSUs and UCs require students to read a book a week and write a papers on them as well. Preparing your kids now will help them in the future.
- Taking on fun summer jobs can teach students responsibility and enlighten them to possible career paths.
Remind them all of their commitments will help them build a well rounded resume when it’s time to apply to college.
The major themes here are keeping your children busy and learning. Don’t forget to hold them accountable and to reward them in one way or another to keep them motivated.
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