As spring is ever so slowly giving way to summer once again, I am reminded of some words that I had written last summer about supporting gifted students. The transition into this time of year can be overwhelming for some. As a mom of five children, I understand the unending possibilities of summer vacation despite the limited time frame. Research shows that the most common thing to happen to students during the summer is a “brain drain” or “summer learning loss”. This means that test scores in the fall are lower than the scores that students had in the spring. However, for gifted students, this data is not representative. Research about students on the gifted side of the bell curve, shows that students are at least maintaining levels of knowledge if not increasing their knowledge during this time. While this may not be surprising to those of you who live with gifted children and have seen the lengths that curiosity and passion can drive uninhibited learning, there are a few tools that I am going to offer to best cultivate and inspire continued growth for your child.
The first piece of advice I have is to put a short, tight limit on the amount of device time your child is allowed this summer. With the increase in use of devices at school, it may be a challenge that takes time to get your child out of the habit of “needing” device time. They will thank you for it in the end, though. Devices can feel binding as children are tied to social media, entertainment and more. However, if the time that can be spent on devices is limited, your child has to find other ways to fill their time as they disconnect.
Once that free time is found, the sky's the limit! Fun and educational opportunities that won’t break the bank are everywhere. The library is a good place to start for researching projects, activities, and vacation ideas!
At home, it is important to make sure you have resources for your child on hand such as building materials. Perhaps your child will enjoy researching the different species of birds in your area and the correlating feeding stations and housing for them. They can design and build a new bird feeder based on their research. Bees (Mason), butterflies, and bats also appreciate handmade shelters. Science projects that use household materials are easy to create in the backyard or at the kitchen table. Make yogurt or cheese. Make a compost site and propagate red worms. Kite flying may seem like it’s become a lost leisure time activity, but I can tell you that when our kids flew their kites, the entire town took notice of the flying bi-plane, pirate ship, and skateboarder kites. It would even draw people in from the river and lakes to see the kiters. All ages of children will be thrilled by how spectacular model rockets look in the summer skies and the exercise that comes with chasing them down as they parachute to the ground is an added bonus. Giving your kids tree, plant and animal identification keys will entertain them for hours. Start a garden. Find a pen pal overseas. Buy a journal to record the summer. Make music. Read. Read. Read. Make sure that they have access to a fairly good microscope, magnifying glass and perhaps even a telescope. You never know when something might grab their attention and they’ll want to see it closer. Spend time in local lakes, ponds, marshes, parks, swamps, woodlands and prairies. Sit quietly and observe for 10 minutes (or more!) “Unplug” yourself as well and enjoy! The time spent “being” while you are there will refresh your soul and a new discovery may be made
Vacations can offer different opportunities that you may not be able to find at home. Make sure that you check out things like: