Tips from Suncoast Christian College on keeping kids learning over summer holiday
At its optimal, summer holidays on the Sunshine Coast will bring plenty of good weather, beach fun and day trips exploring our beautiful region. It is a time when the pressures of the school year can be set aside. When students and parents take time to enjoy a more relaxed pace of life after a busy year of work and study.
It is also a time when learning can take on a different meaning outside of the school environment. At Suncoast, we believe that education is about the whole child, nurturing their physical, spiritual, creative, emotional and academic development. The summer break can be the ideal time to informally explore some new activities and passions. And to take some time to be together as a family and all the relationship learning that this entails.
It is important that the long summer break doesn’t just turn into a screen fest. Students then return to school with their answer to the inevitable first-day question, ‘What did you do on the holidays?’ being an all too familiar response, ‘Nothing’.
For some children, losing all sense of routine and structure can make it difficult to transition back into the school year. This, too often, results in boredom during the holidays. Over the summer holidays, parents need to determine the right mix of downtime and activity. Of being at home and being out and about amongst all there is on offer.
Keeping kids learning over summer can’t sound or look like homework
For Primary-aged children, reading a novel or two together, with parents sharing the reading with their children depending on their age, could be one of the best investments you can make. It certainly shouldn’t be something that sounds or feels like ‘homework’. But instead, an opportunity for bonding over a shared experience.
There are many great novels suitable for a household with children of multiple ages. Classics from such authors as Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The BFG), C.S. Lewis (of Narnia fame) and EB White (Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little). Or recent titles like John Flanaghan (Rangers Apprentice and Brother Band series), Trenton Lee Stewart (The Mysterious Benedict Society series), Kate DiCamillo (The Tale of Despereaux) and Andy Griffiths (of the Storey Treehouse fame).
A novel can also be a springboard for hours of fun for kids learning over summer. Try construction activities to represent characters and settings as well as an impetus for writing. Celebrating the end of a great book by enjoying a family movie night allows children to discover for themselves and debate the question of whether reading the book or watching the movie was the best way to experience the story.
Keeping kids learning over summer as a family
Other family pursuits through the summer holiday, such as playing board games, provide an opportunity-rich in oral language and a chance to practice listening, turn-taking, working as a team, sportsmanship, extended concentration and following procedures.
Visiting new places can spark an interest in research or photography. And why not follow up Christmas Day presents with thank you letters and cards to interstate relatives? Even investing in teaching the organisational skills necessary to maintain a tidy room and establishing some good systems are valuable skills whose development can reap rewards over the whole year.
Keeping kids learning over summer can happen in all contexts. Over the summer holiday, be alert for experiences that provide scope for plenty of fun as well as opportunities for sneakily promoting kids learning and growth. And most of all, take the pressure off yourself and just enjoy time spent together.
By Ms Melanie Mitchell, Head of Primary, Suncoast Christian College