As classes are over for this school year and we're all ready to dive into summer, we won't be sending out the weekly fireworks. That doesn't mean learning isn't happening.
I am a big proponent of what I call REC Time. Let me tell you what REC Time means to me.
First off, REC Time is not just entertainment and recreation, it's re-creation. It's a time to recreate yourself. To reconnect with who you are and to create the self you want to be. You can:
Explore and Exercise
These are actually the things that children naturally like to do and will do unless we get in their way. We don't need to fill their days with educational activities for them to learn and be healthy.
Here's what you can do to help your child have REC Time this summer.
Limit screen time.
While YouTube and video games are a great way to chill, don't let them consume your child's summer. The body and brain need a variety of activities in order to be healthy.
Make trips to the library. Get both fiction and non-fiction books. Read to your children, read with them, and let let them read on their own as much as they like.
Exercise and Explore
The brain works better when the body moves. Children like to move, and a moving child learns faster than one who sits still. Getting out also gives your children the opportunity to see and do things that cannot be done inside, exposing them to many marvelous things that spark curiosity. Here are some things you can do with your child:
Have a variety of materials and resources available for to your child's creative outlet. It's important for children to have time to create on their own. Be sure to allow for lots of time for your child to do work on project that they come up with, that they design, and that they complete, all on their own. Your child may appreciate your suggestions of projects, but don't make any requirements.
It's important for you to know that it is not necessary for children to use curriculum or be in some kind of learning program for them to learn. There are learning opportunities around them all the time.
Back in 2010 I wrote at the end of a very productive summer without any learning structured by me. Let this be an inspiration to you:
The Princeton Website has two definitions for student:
1. a learner who is enrolled in an educational institution
2. a learned person; someone who by long study has gained mastery in one or more disciplines
My youngest child does not identify with the first definition, but it is the second definition that describes his learning experiences.
Harrison is nine years old and we are extremely relaxed homeschoolers. Relaxed because we believe that children need enough time and support to be able to follow their curiosities. That's what this summer has done for Harrison.
At the beginning of the summer, Harrison took an interest in the elements. I posted on Facebook about his interest and got a book recommendation. I found the book at the library, which Harrison devoured. So I got a couple other elements book. One of which, he was particularly excited about because it had real photos of the elements. He carried this two-pound book with him everywhere.
Before he finished that book, Harrison decided that he wants to be even more intelligent. I already limit the boys' computer entertainment time, but Harrison decided to limit it even more. He created for himself a curriculum of study of the elements and practice of creativity. Quite uncharacteristic for a young boy, Harrison has stuck to his promise to himself. He almost completely stopped playing computer games. Imagine my pleasure, when coming home from running errands, instead of finding him glued to the computer or TV, he's reading physics!
Indeed, given the extra time on his hands, Harrison has stepped up his studies. The elements are only the beginning. Everything is made up of elements, so the subject has led him to many other topics. Harrison by now has also read up on astronomy, geography, rocks and minerals, biology, and physics.
Knowing the importance of creativity for the growing brain and the impact of creativity in an adult's success, Harrison is sure to not ignore this part of his learning experiences. He is very conscientious of his creative abilities. I don't know any way to measure creativity, but Harrison has a way of sensing when his creativity is slipping. That's when he turns on his thinker. He will get out stuff like paper and/or straws and make as many new things as he can. We get straw and paper creations all over the house!
In my world, having a highly creative child is just as important as having a highly academic child. Successful people need both creativity and academics to excel. But since most people only want to see academic success, I will get back to talking about those studies.
So any time one of my children gets deeply into a subject, we all do. All day long, Harrison shares with us some exciting new thing that he has learned. Stuff we didn't know about the elements. Plus, with all these great books around the house, my other boys are reading them also. We've been having great conversations. We've touched on black body radiation, Schrödinger's cat paradox, and the Higgs boson particle. Of course, theories like these prompt many more questions and we've gotten into some philosophical discussions that rel