By Michelle Muratori, Ph.D.
Summer is for more than playing video games and swimming at the pool. For bright kids, summer is also a time to gain knowledge in a favorite subject, explore new topics, tackle an academic challenge, or get ahead in school.
But how can you know which summer activities will best engage your bright child? Here are eight tips on making the most of summer learning that I’ve gleaned from my 15 years of working with hundreds of academically advanced elementary, middle, and high school students and their families:
Explore the world
Make the most of learning by doing. Family travel, visits to museums and historic sites, and exploring surroundings while at home and away on vacation can provide great opportunities for bright kids to discover the world.
Become part of a community
Some advanced learners feel isolated at school when peers don’t share their interests. Summer academic programs offer opportunities to learn and socialize with other kids who love to learn about the same topics. The Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth offers a range of fun and challenging day and residential summer courses that engage and connect bright learners. Find out more about CTY’s summer programs.
Wander a college campus
Summer can be a great time for a casual visit to a college with your child, especially if they are in high school. A walk through a campus and surrounding neighborhood can help them, and you, better understand what kind of college size, location, and environment appeals to them.
Explore something new
Take advantage of the time out of school to let your child explore something new. Online courses, like those offered by CTY, offer flexible options where kids can learn a new language, master Python programming, or get familiar with an Advanced Placement class or other courses in math, science, writing, computer science, critical reading, and world languages. Learn about CTY’s online programs.
Build on your child’s academic interests through community service opportunities. For example, if your child is passionate about the environment, explore volunteer opportunities in the field. Or, if you have a young Shakespeare buff, ask local drama camps or theaters about volunteer opportunities. Make connections
Help your child figure out how to use their interests to connect with others. A student I once worked with had few interests other than math, so he created a math circle, which drew other young math lovers into his orbit.
Take a risk
Encourage your child to try something they’ve never done before, like train to run a 5K or pick up painting or another new hobby. If you believe your brain can grow, that is, you have a growth mindset, you behave differently and can achieve more.
Take time to relax
Finally, don’t let your child forget to use the summer months away from school to take time to decompress, reflect, and unwind. The school year can be highly structured and stressful, and using this time to recharge and achieve a sense of balance is important. It’s also a skill that will serve your child well in years to come.
About Michelle MuratoriMichelle Muratori, Ph.D. is a senior counselor/researcher at the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth and a faculty associate at the Johns Hopkins School of Education.