By Trisha Good, Executive Director, Ohio Tuition Trust Authority
July 11, 2023
Your children may be out of school this summer, but that doesn’t mean their opportunities to learn stop during the school break. As a family, there are many chances to encourage your children to think through problems while you’re out having fun.
Are you about to hit the road for your family’s summer vacation? You can turn this newest adventure into some easy math problems. For your younger kids, you can choose a color and then count how many cars in that color you all see in five minutes. Or have them add up the numbers on a license plate. If your children are older, have them work out how long you can drive on the full tank of gas or estimate your remaining travel time based on highway distance signs.
Traveling can teach your children many other skills that will support them as they grow up. Patience being the first one, like with how long it takes to getting to your vacation spot and dealing with difficulties while away from home. Also, learning to try new things. You usually experience some hiccups while traveling. Include your children in how you deal with these obstacles as a family, so they start learning problem-solving skills as well.
And let’s not forget about all the opportunities you can add into your children’s lives while at home. Sign up for your library’s summer reading program, and your children may win prizes for either the amount of books or minutes they spending reading over the summer. Usually, the libraries also offer fun family events to enjoy as a family to accompany these reading challenges.
There are also amazing summer camps available to spark your children’s interests in the outdoors, exercise, art, theater, STEM, computer coding, writing, and so much more. Any of these camps can help your child discover what might interest them in the future as a career.
You can also volunteer as a family over the summer. It’s a great way to teach your children the importance of serving others. As a family, select a charity to support. You can choose to work on projects for which the charity needs help, like painting outdoor walls at a local playground or school, or feeding the needy. Or you choose to raise funds for the charity, like running a lemonade stand or hosting a car wash. Your children can learn that their time, skills, and willingness to work are valuable resources.
The resurgence of the popularity of board games is a nice takeaway from the past few years. Family time spent playing one of these games can grow your children’s decision-making skills. Select games that teach basic principles of personal finance—Game of Life, Pay Day, Monopoly, Catan—or ones that focus on money management, like Cash Flow 101 and Cover Your Assets. With these games, your children learn basic financial concepts while having fun as a family.
Lastly, if you have a high school student in the house, make sure to enjoy this time with them. Spend some time with them to start researching scholarships to help out with their upcoming higher education costs. Federal Student Aid, the U.S. Department of Education that supplies federal financial aid through FAFSA, also offers scholarship guidance. There are free online scholarship sites like Sallie Mae, FinAid, and FastWeb that will match your students to eligible scholarships.
If your child is earning a paycheck through a summer job, encourage them to put some of those funds into their 529 account. Their job can teach time-management, money-management, social, and listening skills. And their savings in the 529 can be used at over 30,000 four-year colleges or universities, two-year community colleges, trade or vocational schools, apprenticeships, and certificate programs nationwide.
About the author:
Trisha Good is the executive director of Ohio Tuition Trust Authority. For more than 34 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 billion in assets as of March 31, 2023. Visit CollegeAdvantage.com or call 1-800-AFFORD-IT (233-6734) for more information.