When I think of truths that have stood the test of time, one clearly stands out in my mind: the last day of the school year is always an exhilarating moment. As teachers and students give goodbye hugs, sign yearbooks, and wish each other safe adventures, the anticipation of relaxation and leisure is an unparalleled feeling for educators and children alike. While rest is certainly an essential part of vacation, we believe that this exciting stretch of sunny free time can be so much more than simply a time to chill. Summer has the potential to be filled with inspiring learning experiences that are just as meaningful as the ones that happen during the academic months.
This school year, the Robertson Center centered its content around three of SA’s core values: fostering critical thinking, ensuring purposeful instruction, and cultivating a strong educational environment. As we head into summer, we’ll continue exploring these themes, rejuvenate our love of learning, and get excited for the school year ahead. Whether you are thinking about how to communicate to your families about your lessons and activities or preparing as a parent for summer yourself, read on for tips and fun activities to keep thinking and learning all summer long.
Tackle New Projects and Hobbies
Have you ever wanted to try your hand at pottery? Is there a soccer clinic you want to try out? Do you want to finally reorganize your home? Whatever the project, summer is the perfect time to try something new. You might finally have time to address tasks you’ve meant to do for weeks or months (or years!), and tackling improvement projects is a great way to immerse yourself in learning and get important stuff done at the same time. This March, the Robertson Center led workshops that brought educators into our approach to project-based learning (PBL). PBL leverages topics that are of natural interest to students and engages learners through observation, inquiry, and hands-on experience. Consider learning a new hobby as a mini PBL unit in which you may find yourself asking questions and figuring out the answer through exploration. At SA, we believe the best way to learn is by doing, and spending time building and fixing things in your living space can activate your mind. And if you have students at home, check out our newly released elementary school PBL curriculum for engaging projects that will encourage experiential learning this summer.
Conquer Your To-Be-Read List
While there’s certainly much joy to be found in whole-class novels, historical primary sources, and mathematical concepts, summer is a great time to roll out the scroll of exciting titles you’ve been looking forward to reading on your own. Whether it’s a Pulizter winner or a beach read you’re planning to devour as you dig your toes into the sand, now’s the time to head outside with a great book and find a shady spot in which to curl up and read. If you have young readers in the house, the RC has curated a list of quality children’s literature to check out, tips for fostering reading joy at home from literacy expert Susannah Richards, as well as advice for young writers from award-winning author Kelly Yang. Independent reading is a sacred time at SA; we know that in order for kids to build an authentic passion for reading, they need opportunities to discover books and genres they love all on their own — and the same goes for adults!
Be a Tourist in Your Town
One of the best ways to learn is by examining your surroundings and discovering new facts and ideas about worlds we think we know well. Wherever you live, your own backyard can be a playground for investigation. Be a tourist in your own town by researching and visiting historic landmarks in your area, observing natural life on your neighborhood walk, or checking out local artists sharing work or giving live performances. This spring, the RC hosted an event around the importance of teaching the whole child, and we believe that developing strong interests comes from questioning the world around us and uncovering ideas that awaken our emotions. For more on why we’re passionate about passions, check out the video of our event here and our blog post on the importance of creative outlets for children, both in and out of the classroom.
Whether you’re an adult or a student, summer is a spectacular time to become an independent, self-directed learner, and we hope you’ll join the RC this fall as we continue our exploration of SA’s core values and dive into content centered around the theme of “autonomy.”