July 12, 2022

Once the school year is over, most children put away their backpacks and avoid anything educational for the summer. But you can encourage them to keep learning during their break and make it fun! Here are some easy ideas to try.  

Many local libraries offer summer reading challenges, usually with prizes, for children of all ages. These programs are set up to fend off the “summer slide” and strengthen children’s reading skills over the break. Check with your local library to see what programs and other fun events are scheduled over the summer.

An amazing variety of day camps to encourage your child’s burgeoning interests. Do they like computer coding? There are camps to learn the basics. If they love being outdoors, there are camps can teach them how to explore safely and enjoy the beauty surrounding them. The outdoor camps may include opportunities to learn how to rock climb, ride horses, and do other sports to keep them physically active. There are art camps for children to explore their creative side, focusing on graphic design, painting, drawing, creative writing, and photography. Any of these camps can give your child insights into what might interest them in the future as a career.

Volunteering is a great way to teach your children to serve their community. As a family, decide what charity organization you would like to support. You can choose to work on projects for which the charity needs help or to fundraise, like running a lemonade stand to earn money for the charity. Your children can learn that their time, skills, and willingness to work are valuable resources. They will also experience the joy and pride of helping others.

Summer is also an excellent time for family time. Take walks to explore the surrounding world. These walks can become valuable science lessons as you try to figure out the names of different plants and if they can be food or medicine, listen to different birdcalls to determine which bird is singing, and look for small little animals as you explore nature. Or you can plant a garden together and watch how vegetables and fruits grow. Then you can use that farming bounty to plan and cook a meal as a family.

Board games are fun and can include valuable life lessons, too. As a parent that values saving for future expenses, you can select games that teach basic principles of personal finance, like the Game of Life, Pay Day, or Monopoly. Some games specifically focus on money management techniques, like Cash Flow 101. As your family plays these games together, your children can learn core financial concepts to help them in the future.

If you have high school students in the house who are already “bored” this summer, have them start their scholarship search—whether their higher education is a couple of years away or if it begins this fall. Start by visiting the website of Federal Student Aid, the federal agency that administers the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It also offers scholarship guidance as well as links to other informational resources. Many free online scholarship sites like Sallie Mae, FinAid, and FastWeb exist. Your child will create a profile that matches them to eligible scholarships. Sallie Mae also offers the Paying For College Resource, which assembles free tools, videos, and checklists to keep you on track while preparing for your children’s higher education. 

Working a job over the summer is another great learning opportunity for your older children. Besides earning money that can go to their 529 higher education savings account, a job can teach your child essential time-management, money-management, social, and listening skills. 

All these ideas can provide your children valuable life lessons as they explore the world around them and their role in it.

About the author:

Tim Gorrell is the executive director of Ohio Tuition Trust Authority. For 30 years, Ohio Tuition Trust Authority has sponsored and administered Ohio’s 529 College Savings Program, CollegeAdvantage. Ohio’s 529 Plan oversees more than 680,000 accounts and over $15.93 billion in assets as of March 31, 2022. Visit CollegeAdvantage.com or call 1-800-AFFORD-IT (233-6734) for more information.