If you’d like to give your kids some fun learning opportunities this summer, it is indeed possible. You don’t have to completely give up your relaxing summer in order to do it, either. There are many stealth summer learning opportunities that you can put in front of your children that you will all enjoy! And the best part is that these ideas don’t have to take a lot of time, money, or planning in order to make them happen.
Here are some of our favorite stealth summer learning ideas:
Take your children outdoors on a nature walk. The key to these walks is to walk SLOWLY. Look around. Look at the trees, the leaves, the moss, the animals, the bugs… bring along a field guide to help you identify what you’re actually observing. Bring a bag with you to collect specimens for further study at home. Take your time and enjoy the beautiful world that God has created for us.
Walk through a desert, a forest, a sand dune, a swamp and take note of their differences. When you return home, have your children draw pictures and write stories of their experiences in a nature journal. If they are very young, have them dictate stories of the experience and attempt to draw what they saw. You will cherish these rudimentary drawings later.
You also may want to purchase a nice, quality artist’s sketchbook for your child to make saving their scientific observations long term. It also gives them a sense of importance as they record their experiences.
Get out in nature and observe the world around you with your children. There’s nothing like seeing things again for the first time through their eyes!
Field trips are some of the most thrilling real-life lessons that we can give to our children. Taking a field trip is an awesome way to give boys outside fun.
I will never forget the excitement, when I was a child, of watching a bunch of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes moving down a conveyor belt and then getting to taste a box of fresh cereal at the end of the tour. Or going to the fire station and getting to spray their big hose. Field trips taken with your children will stay with them for many years to come.
If we really want children to engage in meaningful learning experiences that connect with their real lives, we need to make education relevant for them. Schools are somewhat limited in how much they can get children outside of the classroom. Homeschool parents have much more freedom in this area. Since book work only consumes 2-4 hours per day, depending on your curriculum, we have a lot of time left over to get our boys outside.
Field trips are a fun way to incorporate real-world learning into their day. There are so many places to visit:
- Capital Buildings
- Nature centers
- National and State Parks
- Local Factories and Businesses
- Doctor’s Offices and Fire Stations, etc.
- Historic Locations
- The Creation Museum in Kentucky
- Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia
Talk to everyone you know and see who would be willing to allow you to come visit their place of business or allow your son to job shadow them for a day. The more you allow your boys to experience a variety of job situations, the more accurately they will be able to determine what type of career they might like to pursue as they get older.
You might also want to consider having your kids take a Virtual Field Trip to save time and money (especially GAS MONEY.) Virtual Field Trips allow your children to experience pictures, video, etc. about topics of interest to them without ever leaving your home.
Did you know that as a homeschooler you can get into some places at a discount? Many locations from Dollywood to Disney, from the Kennedy Space Center to Shedd Aquarium have Homeschool Days. Many zoos, museums, planetariums and more also offer discounts to homeschoolers. If you plan your field trips to take advantage of these Homeschool Days, you can save your family a significant amount of money.
Each year, plan a day when you will look at the websites for places you’re interested in visiting. Write down their special Homeschool Days on your calendar so that you can determine which locations would be best for your family to visit at which times.
Our family visited Colonial Williamsburg a few years ago during their homeschool days. Because we went at this special time, my boys got to experience some fun activities that aren’t offered the rest of the year. They got to work in a blacksmith’s shop. They got to pack ammunition. They also got to march as a colonial soldier.
Who says that all learning is done with reading, writing, or arithmetic? Our kids need to learn a ton of life skills and summer is an excellent time to take on this task. Consider running a Life Skills Boot Camp over the summer. Make a list of all of the skills you’d like your child to know by the time he leaves your house and then tackle teaching these skills one at a time. If you are intentional, you’ll be amazed at how quickly your son will learn the skills necessary for him to live on his own and become a productive citizen.
Time with Grandparents
If you are fortunate enough to have parents or grandparents who live close by, try to take advantage of the slower days of summer to spend some time with them. Whether they are young and spry and able to do lots of fun stuff with your kiddos – or if they are older and frail and living in a nursing home – time with grandparents is invaluable.
My youngest son and several of his cousins are spending this week with my dad. They are going to have the time of their lives! They’ll be doing missions work together each evening. And their days will be spent cutting up and having fun. It’s worth the effort to make these types of events happen. Be intentional about setting up time between your kids and their grandparents. You’ll be amazed at all of the valuable life lessons your kids will learn!
Family vacations are excellent times to sneak in some stealth learning. Kids will learn lots of people skills by being in close quarters together traveling in a car for hours. It’s natural for kids and adults alike to learn a lot from various historical and geographical landmarks.
Our family loves to travel together. We don’t always have the money to take a full-blown vacation. However, whenever we can, we love to explore different areas of our state and our country. We’ve been able to take a trip to Cave City, Kentucky to go through Mammoth Cave. We’ve been to Gatlinburg, Tennessee and have enjoyed the beauty of the Smokey Mountains. We’ve been to Mackinac Island and the Upper Penninsula of Michigan and have loved to spend time there out in nature. One year we went to Branson, Missouri. Other years, we’ve been to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. And this year, we’re headed to the Wisconsin Dells. I can’t wait!
If you already have a family vacation scheduled, be on the alert for learning activities you can sprinkle throughout your trip. Just take care not to force too much learning into your week. Be sure to leave some time for relaxation and family time as well.
If you don’t have the money for a family vacation, there’s no need to despair. There are plenty of fun Staycation Ideas you can implement instead, such as camping in your backyard or taking a day trip.
Volunteering is another excellent way to help your kids learn character lessons over the summer. No matter what ages your kids are, you should be able to find several volunteer opportunities in your area. Ask around at church to see where they need help. Pick up trash along a hiking trail in a city park. Visit a nursing home and talk with the residents. Help walk dogs for a local shelter. There are so many ideas to choose from. And these types of lessons will have a lasting impact which will help your children to develop servant’s hearts.
This summer, rather than feeling like you need to pull out a stack of workbooks to keep your kids’ brains active, try to incorporate some stealth summer learning instead. Your kids will think they’ve had the summer off but you’ll be able to rest easy knowing that their hearts and minds are still learning and growing.
Question: Do you try to incorporate any stealth learning into your summer schedule? If so, what’s the best way you’ve found to keep your kids’ minds active over the summer? Please leave a comment below.