5 Ideas for Summer Learning
Summertime has always been frightening for me. As a working mother with a demanding job, lots of family to manage and several side-projects, I have always dreaded the nearly three month long holiday, where the principle task of teaching and engaging my energetic and curious three year old is mostly mine.
Last year however I decided I would spend the summer less in terror and more meaningfully for my son and for myself. The transition was aided in part by the fact that my son had turned three and was now easier to engage with than earlier.
Summer needn’t be a thing of terror for you, either! There are plenty of easy and fun ways to keep energetic toddlers learning throughout summer and none involve you sitting down with them in a class-room like set up.
The core idea of the Montessori curriculum is what is called a “constructivist” model, which suggests that children can learn from the real world through a process of discovery and working with materials rather than by direct instruction. Summer holidays therefore are a great way practice this central tenet of Montessori i.e. let them engage with the world and learn.
Here are five ideas for you to try this summer:
- Let your child help in the kitchen – I spend hours in the kitchen like a lot of other mothers from my part of the world and find that it is a particularly fun room to spend time with a toddler, too. We have any number of activities in the kitchen:
- Naming and identifying vegetables from the crisper and matching them to the ones in big picture books or naming and identifying colours from fruits and vegetables.
- You can practice naming textures like hard, soft, squishy, sticky and so on.
- The most fun activity by far though is making lemonade! Allowing a toddler to help with lemonade has a multitude of benefits – motor control, learning to squeeze and handle a lemon, the joy of discovery and creating (mom, I can make lemonade and its fun!), creativity – adding sugar, salt or rose extract to create exotic flavors, freezing lemonade to make ice-lollipops and so on.
- You can also let them help create meals, shell peas or peel easy fruits, and even lay the table to encourage independence.
- Go to the Market – Introduce your child to the real world, explain that money and shopping works through exchange, help them identify and count out simple groceries, ask them to spell out and identify items. One of my favorite things to do is to have my son fill in the shopping cart and stand in line and politely ask the cashier to bill. You will find that many teachers in the real world exist too.
- Crafty Masks – Summer time is also a great opportunity to work with your toddler. Use a pair of safety scissors and teach them how to cut and paste using safe glue. Include as many decorative things as you can, we love using dried leaves or dry lentils and grain. Our favorite activity is to create and cut masks. We make a new one every week and then create a funny song or skit complete with fake voices. Toddlers are great actors and story tellers, add some fun music and put on a weekend show for your family. All you need are home-made masks, a story and a bed sheet on a clothesline to do a mask-show. Your toddler learns valuable skills on confidence, storytelling and craft. If you aren’t the crafty kind, millions of free craft printables exist on the internet that are easy to execute with minimal fuss.
- The Great Outdoors – Summery evenings are a great way to also spend time in the park. Do more than just Frisbee! Show your toddler around the park, help him/her identify leaves and their colours and shapes. Name local flowers and if you can spot the gardener introduce him/her and explain what he she does. My toddler helps with the hose too and sometimes with weeding as well.
- Conversation – The other great thing to do is to actually have conversation with your toddler. The rest of the year affords little time to actually talk and listen to our children. Sit down and talk to them. Ask them how their day was, what they did, who their friends are and what they found fun in the day. Being able to narrate and speak/respond in turn is a valuable skill and there is no better time to practice than when the kids are home.
I hope you have a wonderful summer of learning!
About the Author
Varna is a social researcher, photographer and mother living in Delhi, India. She is a social media enthusiast and long time blogger. Find her on twitter @varna.