I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
July 26, 2011
School is now but a distant memory for most of our kids, along with at least some of what they learned while they were there.
At 4 and 7, my kids are learning so much about the world around them — the last thing I want to do is watch them forget it over the summer. I’ve challenged myself over the last few years to turn as many of their every-day experiences into learning experiences as I can. The trick is to do it without them even realizing it’s happening. Our recent beach vacation is a perfect example.
Here are some ideas that might inspire you when it comes to your own kids.
First off, if you’re getting ready to go somewhere, even for just a few days, why not buy or reserve some children’s books from the library in advance about your destination?
…you have a perfect opportunity to read facts about marine life. We actually picked up these books while were were at the beach and my children devoured them. Each vacation, though, I always vow to be better organized and do some research with the kids before we actually leave.
Now, though, my family likes to go to the beach for a few hours and spend the rest of the day on learning adventures. At Hilton Head, one of those adventures was a trip to the Coastal Discovery Center and a tour of the salt marsh there.
The kids learned about the area’s ecology, helped trap a few blue crabs, held a fiddler crab for a few brief moments before he got away, reviewed the life cycle of the butterfly at the Center’s Butterfly Enclosure (fascinating because they had just hatched their own)…
Even our more mundane activities were turned into opportunities for learning. At four, Bruiser is really into learning to count as high as he can, and recognizing numbers- So we put him in charge of our elevator rides.
Doing these kinds of things with the kids is so exciting to me because I’m watching them develop a passion for learning right before my eyes. Both of them love to spout facts about marine life, animals, and the world around them, and both of them love to explore and read and find out new things every day.
I can promise you that making an effort to find fun and educational activities while you’re on vacation pays off. When I asked the kids what their favorite activity was during our trip to Garden City Beach in South Carolina a year ago, they both quickly said it was the afternoon we went to a nearby state park for a beachcombing walk with a naturalist. They loved learning about all the things we picked up in the surf, and it was so exciting to watch them return to the beach this year and spout off facts they’d learned last year about all the things they found on the shore.
Hopefully these ideas help inspire you this summer. Now I hope you’ll do the same for me. How do you keep your kids on a learning track during the summer break?