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Summer: A Time for Authentic Learning

Summer is here!  These lazy days bring a sense of calm and a much needed respite for students and their parents.  For some, the break also brings a certain level of learning loss referred to as the dreaded “summer slide.”  To combat this loss the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) partnered with the US Department of Education to promote continuous learning. National Summer Learning Week is July 10th through 14th, 2023. This weeklong celebration brings to light the power of continuous learning with five summer learning themes. The NSLA further provides a wealth of excellent community resources for authentic summer learning experiences.

(National Summer Learning Week 2023)

At home and on vacation, parents can incorporate the five themes of the week in their daily activities. Encouraging Theme One, “Love of Learning and Literacy,” is a great way to start!  Take a trip to your local library (Bronxville Public Library) and take advantage of the multitude of summer programs provided. Make time for reading by hosting a family reading challenge. It’s a great way to instill a love of reading and practice those skills learned throughout the year. Incorporate Theme Two, “Amazing Arts,” by visiting local museums and historic sites. Plan a summer craft, enjoy a summer concert or perhaps, sign your child up for music lessons.  “There is an increasing body of empirical and experimental studies concerning the wider benefits of musical activity, and research in the sciences associated with music suggests that there are many dimensions of human life—including physical, social, educational, and psychological (cognitive and emotional)—which can be affected positively by successful engagement in music.” Click the link to read an editorial about The Impact of Music on Human Development and Well-Being.

Summer is a great time to participate in Theme Three, “Wonder of Wellness, Health and Sports.”  Practicing mindfulness, eating healthy and exercising daily are great habits that kids should adopt at a young age. Stress affects everyone, even kids. Learning to self-soothe and calm themselves down is an essential skill kids need to master to enable them to live a mentally healthy life. Teaching mindfulness (The Power of Mindfulness) is all about breathing and staying in the present moment. Cooking with your child (Teaching Kids to Cook) not only encourages lifelong healthy eating habits, it also brings a host of teachable moments as well as enhancing math, literacy, science and fine motor skills.

Creating a “STEM” activity, Theme Four, is a great way to engage your child with the world around them and the summertime offers a variety of activities. Parents are their child’s first and greatest teacher. Taking a walk in nature and noticing the fallen bark off a tree can turn into a learning experience for a child.  Take the bark home, conduct some research, and explore with your child.  Depending on the type of tree, you may find out it is a natural process of aging or the tree is damaged. Once your research is done, you can incorporate an art activity and paint the bark.  The little things we take for granted everyday can turn into the greatest lessons and inspire more learning. Check out this site for some fun Summer STEM Activities.

Theme Five, “Community and Leadership,” is the final theme of the week. Developing leadership skills in early childhood encourages healthy self-esteem, good communication skills and opens the mind to what is possible for the future.  Here is a list of skills kids should master to be successful adults: 7 Leadership Skills Kids Need To Learn. Volunteering with your child in your local community helps create leadership skills and creates memories filled with authentic life lessons and as Robert Ingersoll once said, “We rise by lifting others.” You can find great Volunteer Opportunities for Kids in Westchester here.

Prep Academy Tutors is proud to participate in this amazing week and we are thrilled to provide authentic summer learning experiences for all our students.  Please reach out to us if you require additional support to help your child participate in the five themes of the week.

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Written by our staff author and teacher, Maryann Moriarty. Maryann has 15 years of teaching experience in New York City and is a contributing author at the Educator’s Room.