Do not the summer slip by without helping your children make the most of the flexible schedule. From preschool to students about to enter college, there are all kinds of learning opportunities to experience over the summer.

1. The Farmer's Market

Grab a treat to share with your children, stroll through the selection of healthy, fresh-grown produce, and give the local growers in your area some business.

  • See how many vegetables your children can name. Often, vendors at local markets will carry foods not seen in grocery stores. Encourage your children to learn the names by asking the sellers.
  • Purchase vegetable plants and let your children help plant and grow them at home, learning the process of gardening.
  • Come up with recipes at home for items from the market: a fresh salad or a homemade salsa. Younger children can draw pictures of the recipe instructions, older ones can write out the step-by-step directions.

2. Hiking

Take a hike at a nearby lake or nature trail. Enjoy the exercise and consider making it a regular activity throughout the summer and fall.

  • Have the kids plan and pack a picnic lunch to bring along.
  • Go through with them the items to have in a small first-aid kit, and then have them put one together in a shoe box or plastic container with a lid.
  • Take photos of various plants, trees, and flowers seen on the hike. Look up the names at home, keeping a journal with discoveries made on each hike.

3. Swimming Lessons

Lessons are important for kids' safety. Make sure to give them plenty of opportunities to practice what they have learned.

  • For the first 10 minutes or so, have them practice their new strokes and skills whenever going to a pool or aquatic center with the family. They can play after they practice. Do it with them!
  • Have them teach you what they learned during their lesson. Then, swim for them and have them critique you!

4. Cooking

More specifically, making cool treats in the kitchen during the hot summer months.

  • Make simple homemade popsicles or homemade ice cream.
  • Make drinks at home that you might normally get at a restaurant: milkshakes, frozen fruit beverages, lemonade, and limeade.
  • Make sure they follow the directions for each recipe, and help measure the ingredients.

5. Summer Classes

Check with the local recreation center to see what is offered in the coming months. Many community centers offer art and craft classes, gymnastics, and dance. It's a great way for kids to get education in something new and different without packing it into a school day.

6. Summer Camps

Mom's Day Out programs, preschools, churches, and other community organizations offer summer programs for babies to kids in high school. Some camps focus on specific areas (like science), while others offer experiences in a variety of areas.

7. Help Others

Teach children to make good use of their extra time in the summer to give time to others. This kind of education is priceless.

  • Young children can help at local soup kitchens (who will have more in need while school is out), and help gather and drop off items to thrift stores that support charities.
  • Older students can check out volunteer work programs and trips sponsored by churches and other organizations. There are opportunities to help out within the United States, as well as abroad.

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