Summer vacation is a much needed break from the rigors of the school year, for both parents and their children. But while it’s a perfect time to lounge by the pool and indulge in more leisurely activities, the summer also presents a unique opportunity to keep your children intellectually engaged and educationally stimulated in fun and novel ways. Kids certainly need a break from homework and teachers, but that doesn’t mean they need a break from learning! Here are six fun ways to keep your children entertained, educated, and engaged this summer:
- Check out the local library. Most libraries have a reading program or contest for kids during the summer. Frederick County Public Libraries has two Summer Reading Programs, one for children up to grade 5 and another for grade 6 and up. Adams County libraries have a “Dig into Reading” Summer Program, which encourages kids to read at least one hour a week, and has weekly prizes for those who sign up and complete the challenges. Not close to a library? Try hosting your own neighborhood book club with your children and their friends. It’ll be an incentive to read more, and as a bonus, you’ll get to socialize with the other parents.
- Investigate history. The Emmitsburg-Gettysburg area presents wonderful opportunities to study historical events. Even if you live here, act like a tourist: take any of the battlefield tours that are offered, visit the Diorama at the Gettysburg History Center, and walk around the museums. In less than an hour, you can continue the historical experience by visiting Antietam and Sharpsburg in Maryland, or browsing the medical exhibits at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in downtown Frederick, MD. There aren’t too many kids who aren’t fascinated by stories of the battles or seeing genuine artifacts of the war. They’ll enjoy it so much they won’t even realize they are learning something in the process!
- Take a nature walk. Why not take advantage of all the state and national parks in the area to commune with nature? A leisurely hike along any of the numerous trails in Catoctin Mountain Park or nearby is a fantastic way to enjoy the Great Outdoors. Walking (or bike riding) through any of the beautiful parks nearby offers a double benefit of exercising the body and the mind.
- Enroll in summer camp. At many private and public summer camps, children can learn a variety of skills—swimming, archery, fishing, kayaking, etc. Sports-themed camps are quite popular with children; it allows them to develop their natural talents, as well as learn new skills and sports. Check with your local Boy and Girl Scout organizations, area churches, and schools for camps that might appeal to your family. Mother Seton School will be hosting an Extended Learning Camp for rising 3rd- and 4th-graders from June 16-20, “The Fabulous Five”. No budget for camp? Host your own backyard camp. Encourage kids to use their imagination in coming up with activities to do and projects to create. This would also be a good time to teach kitchen skills, since every camper must eat. Help them prepare the day’s meals and snacks.
- Enjoy the summer nights. Download a star map and try to pick out the constellations in the sky. Or chase fireflies with the kids and study them when they are caught. Make s’mores over a fire pit and sing camp songs. Even just sitting quietly to listen to the evening sounds can be an enjoyable and educational experience.
Always keep an eye out for a learning opportunity, but above all, have fun this summer!