Summer Fun and Education: Can You Have Both?
As the books and computers are put away and the grades have all been handed out, I am often left with a feeling of worry. What will we do this summer? Will it be a summer filled with TV, computer games, and Xbox? That is the last thing I want; however, sometimes I feel like that is the routine we fall into. It is easy, everyone is occupied, and no one is fighting. However, in the back of my mind I know this is not the best thing for my kids and the guilt starts to creep in. “I am a teacher, I should have great and wonderful adventures planned!” I tell myself. “Other parents are so creative and always doing such fun activities. Why can’t I?”
Well, first of all it is okay to have a day of non-educational play. It doesn’t always have to be some grand adventure. As a science teacher, I want to encourage you to find little lessons in your daily activities. I happen to live on a small farm; I find that our daily chores offer a ton of little lessons. The other day I was outside with the kids and we were hauling wood. Of course when you roll over a log you find a lot of insects under the log, so we took some time to observe and talk about what we saw. We looked it up on our iPhones and did a little research (Yes, it isn’t always bad to use electronics!). Sure, it took 15-20 minutes longer to finish the job, but we had so much fun learning about new insects.
Summer fun can still be found in the great outdoors.
Another time we were walking back to our garden area and we were passing a lot of trees with new growth on them, so we took a moment to observe the leaves and compare the differences. My daughter of course had to collect a lot of the leaves, which turned into an art project later on. These two little experiences didn’t take any time to plan or any money on materials, yet they are some of the most memorable educational moments we’ve had.
In my science classes, one of the first things I do on day one is to ask the students what their favorite part of science is and what they hope to learn. Many students will share experiences they had over the summer. Some will talk about trips they took and some will talk about family they visited, but the stories I love the most are the ones where kids just got outside and explored. They learn so much just having fun. So let’s take some of the stress off of ourselves as parents to plan grand science lessons and just relax and enjoy the great science lesson God has given us: the outdoors!
Heather Getson has been teaching science classes online for the last seven years and loves watching her students find connections between science and their everyday lives. She has been married to John for 20 years and has four kids, whom she is currently homeschooling. As a family they love to be outdoors; camping, hiking, and traveling are their favorite things to do together.