In the next few weeks, the school year is going to end and kids across the country are going to scream their heads off as they run out of the school building. No more school! No more school! And what will the summer bring? Unfettered time on the Wii, XBox, or PlayStation, very (very, very) late sleep-in times, or hours long veg-fests in front of the TV?
As my kids have moved into the upper elementary and middle school grades, the time for a work-free summer has disappeared. While the majority of their friends are off to sports camps, we have worked to get our geeklets into challenging education-focused and leadership programs.
For many kids the thought of “voluntary summer education” is a laughable idea. However, summer enrichment courses are a great way to provide a fresh perspective on the learning process outside of the classroom, not to mention an excellent chance to make new friends. Here are some tips in selecting a great summer enrichment program for your child:
Find a program associated with your local college or university
Most colleges and universities offer great summer programs. For the older geekteen, there are many opportunities for overnight and week-long programs. In these programs the students get a chance to participate in college level academics and also get a feel for staying in a dorm and becoming somewhat responsible for their daily life (even if it is only for a week). A quick search on your local college’s website should yield some results. Some schools have an entire website devoted to their summer program offerings (like, Ohio State’s P12 project, Go Bucks!).
Find one run in partnership with your geeklet’s school
Contrary to popular belief, many teachers are not sitting in front of their TVs all summer either. If they are not in an educational course themselves, they are moonlighting in a number of excellent summer programs. One that we like is Camp Invention. These week long courses offer a nice variety of critical thinking programs with a fun twist. Check with your child’s teacher to see what is offered in your area.
Try your local museums or state / national parks
Not everyone is lucky enough to live near SpaceCamp like me. However, many aquariums, planetariums, and science & natural history museums throughout the country offer day camps in the summer. Depending on the museum’s focus, your geeklet can try their hand at kayaking, paleontology, or an astronomy camp out. State and national parks are also a great way to “get in the outdoors”, while learning something new.
Today’s geeklets have a wide variety of programs to choose from. But, time is running out. The most popular camps tend to fill up fast!