Summertime Learning

It's that time of year. If school is not already out for the summer, it might as well be. It's also that time of year when educators and parents question how to keep up children's learning during the summer vacation. Wouldn't it be great if summertime fun - playing outdoors and having more unstructured time - actually enhanced children's capacity and motivation to learn? What if catching frogs was the prerequisite for a natural curiosity in biology? What if spending a night camping helped kids develop a desire to care for the environment? And what if, during that night outdoors, kids could actually see the constellations that they have to memorize in the grade 6 curriculum? Research* says that boys in particular are not reading for fun as much anymore. The obvious is to blame time spent on video games. We're ok, I tell myself, my 3 boys have got Magic Tree House, Harry Potter and Percy Jackson covered. But then I read on... the time spent on video games is not impacting the amount of time that boys read for fun. Video games have displaced another major activity, but that activity isn't reading; it's playing outdoors. Ahhh. Right. So this summer, it's not a question of balancing screen and off-screen time. It's a question of balancing screen and outdoor discovery time. It'll be my way of ensuring that the boys stay motivated to learn in school and justifying why I'm not doing one more activity book! * 'Research says...': I'm reading and loving the book, Boys Adrift - the 5 factors driving the growning epidemic of unmotivated boys and underachieving young men by Dr Leonar Sax. (Just so you don't feel left out, girls: your crises are covered in Girls on the Edge by the same author.)

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