Engage your kids in learning throughout the summer with a variety of experiences to help them to continue their growth and prevent learning loss. If you have a phone or tablet, apps can do more than keep them busy. It is important to select apps that engage your child, strengthen their skills, and promote learning. In addition, make sure to balance screen time with playtime to help your child to create a healthy relationship with technology.
As the school year comes to a close and the end-of-school events fill every waking hour, it can be easy to forget what lies ahead. While the children are getting more and more excited to have three months with no obligations, the parents see the inherent danger in the situation: the kids will be joyous for the first two hours of their newfound freedom and lamenting about their boredom for the rest of the time. Rest assured, this parental dread of summer is not uncommon or unrectifiable. It is a simple matter of planning things for your children to do. To the parents who want to avoid three months of television watching for their children, fear not; here are a few programs to help keep your child engaged over the summer.
On Fridays throughout the summer, the Delaware Museum of Art offers a “Glory of Stories” event in which children ages two and older can go and be read a book, tour some art relevant to the story, then complete an art project. This is a great time for your child to explore creatively, be exposed to all kinds of professional art, then create some art of their own. This fun Friday activity is an awesome weekly opportunity to get out of the house and seek different cultures close to home.
To a child looking to try something new, Wellspring Farm holds a summer riding camp from June 12th through August 14th for all children 6-13 even remotely interested in dabbling in this craft. The children will do things such as receive basic riding instruction, work on their balance, learn about the anatomy of horses and how to care for them, play games, and do crafts. This program teaches children how to be safe with a large animal and bond with their peers and the horses. The week is concluded with a horse show for the children’s family and friends. The children do not have to have any experience riding to participate and will be mentored by the older riders who have more practice and wisdom.
From June 31st through August 4th, the Brandywine River Museum of Art has a camp which offers children ages 9-14 the opportunity to explore their interests in both nature and art. The camp emphasizes exposing the parallels between the beauty of the outdoors and the beauty of painting. They will observe patterns in nature and try to mimic them in artwork of their own. This is an opportunity for intellectual, personal, and social growth and offers opportunities to be exposed to the artwork at the museum.
Reading is more than a valuable skill for academic and career success; it can be a door to an adventure, exposure to a new culture, or a temporary escape to another realm. At Sanford School, we encourage students to read for meaning, but also to read for joy. Here are some favorite books to read and reasons to read from Sanford's administration, faculty and staff:
"I love reading because it allows me to travel through time and across borders even when I’m in the waiting room at the dentist or curled up cozily on my couch. I love the way reading can challenge me to think about what I believe and why I believe it." For me, Edwidge Danticat offers the marriage of these two experiences in her Haitian novels, particularly my favorite, The Farming of Bones, Brianna Smale, English Teacher and Department Chair.
"If it is fiction, then I can taste what it might be like to travel to different places and times. If it is non-fiction, then I am able to bring meaningful input into conversations with my friends about various topics. My favorite authors are Rick Riordan and Tamora Pierce." A favorite book is The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. Danielle Winter, Upper School Latin Teacher.
Unity and understanding, both in families and societies, are created through traditions. Schools are both large families and small societies. School traditions bring together unique students, staff, and families to create a strong and cohesive community. Traditions remind us of the history that defines our past, molds who we are today and shapes who we are likely to become.
Over the last twenty years working with Middle School athletes, I have learned the value of keeping kids active and instilling the importance of lifetime sports at a young age. Often, the lessons learned off the field are greater than the skills and strategies of the game. Many times, these life lessons are so much more impactful than just reaping the benefits of exercise.
Spring days inspire so many of us to get outside and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. School sports move outside, while playgrounds and parks become alive with families enjoying time together. Many studies also prove that there is a positive educational benefit of connecting young learners with nature. Author and Early Childhood educator from the Yale Child Study Center, Erika Chrstakis states, "Active learning, and especially outdoor play in nature, is essential to healthy human development."
Connecting children to nature cultivates:
As with many families, the decision to send our children to a private school required a lot of thought. We both attended public schools, so had no experience with the world of private schools. And, yes, the financial commitment was a challenge. But we firmly believe that the decision to send our sons to Sanford School played an important role in their success in college, their careers, and their overall happiness.
Among the many benefits of an independent school such as Sanford, the small class sizes, emphasis on individual attention, and excellence of the teachers stand out.
We offer two stories that illustrate why we believe this:
One of the benefits of independent schools is that we are not bound by state or federal legislation dictating the use of standardized testing to measure our students’ academic growth and success. This academic freedom allows each independent school to operate true to its mission. Ultimately, the academic growth and success rate of independent school students are measured by college matriculation.
Independent schools have the freedom to select a standardized test which best serves their students and their college preparatory goals. The tests that most independent schools use, ERB tests, are created, produced, and scored by the same company that creates, produces, and scores the PSAT and SAT. These tests are specifically designed for independent schools and are inherently more challenging than other standardized tests because they have to discriminate among children whose schools have a more challenging curriculum. The specific data that independent schools gain from standardized tests is extremely helpful because:
- Teachers and administrators can identify potential gaps in our curriculum where we need to dedicate more exposure to specific topics or skills.
- Post-testing curriculum evaluations help to ensure that our academic programs deliver the necessary knowledge and application skills.
- We can see where students have demonstrated individual growth and also areas of weakness.
What if you had to choose whether your child would learn to understand algebra or be a kind person, but not both? Fortunately, we don’t have to make those kinds of decisions because good schools teach both academic skills and interpersonal skills. Most parents have an understanding of the academic concepts taught at schools and can find more specifics in a curriculum guide or a set of grade-level standards. But, where do you look to find out what schools are doing to help kids grow up to be kind and responsible adults? How do you get a sense of how kids treat each other at a particular school?
Authentic learning is messy, loud, and somewhat chaotic as students grapple with application of their ideas and classroom learning to solve a problem. Authentic learning is active, creative, and fun.
What does authentic learning look like?
Student teams discuss their thinking, develop and implement a plan of action, and get to work. Some plans fail, and students learn to quickly adapt their thinking and craft new solutions as they work within time constraints.
This ebb and flow of successes and failures is part of authentic learning, and students learn more from failures than successes.
Authentic learning develops critical thinkers who are collaborative problem solvers prepared to meet the demands of our dynamic global community.