With summer just a few weeks away, it’s time to start planning summer camp! As much as I would like to, I can’t afford summer camps for a bunch of kids, so we do the next best thing – we make our own summer camp. Summer camp has evolved over the years and it’s become more manageable and more enjoyable for everyone. Our summer camp has two parts, academics and themes.
The academic component for my younger kids consists of using the Summer Bridge workbooks. I like these workbooks because they are geared for the skills kids should have at the end of the school year and build from there. Most other workbooks start at the begging of a school year and are either too hard or too easy. The Summer Bridge workbooks are fun and I don’t hear too much complaining about doing a couple of pages a day. I also like that they are another tool to make sure my children didn’t miss any major concepts over the previous school year. You can find workbooks from Pre-K to Kindergarten all the way to 7th Grade to 8th Grade; although I let my kids choose their curriculum after 6th Grade.
The workbooks are divided into three sections. Each section has a reading goal and a place to write in a reward for completing the section. We usually do something small like an ice cream cone for the first two sections and something a little bigger for completing the whole book. My children have chosen small stuffed animals, books or a piece of clothing. Last year, they all pushed to finish the workbooks so we could see “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince” as their reward.
I let my older kids set their own curriculum. I encourage them to include math practice, writing skills, learning something new and develop a talent. My high school age child already has a couple of books to read for AP English. We set specific goals with specific rewards.
Allowing children to choose rewards and have a say in the curriculum when they get older helps keep them motivated to use their brains over the summer. It also teaches them a love for learning and a life-long pursuit of knowledge and increased skills. I am reminded that not only do I need to encourage and motivate my children to continue learning; I get to be an example to them and have an excuse to read a good book now and then!