Summer vacation, with its leisurely stretches of unstructured time, may be an ideal season for your gifted child to learn and grow outside of an academic setting. Here are four ways parents can keep children actively engaged in learning, even during the lazy days of summer.
Gifted learners tend to have an intense need for intellectual stimulation—and that need doesn't disappear when the school year ends. In addition to their insatiable curiosity, gifted children often face unique social challenges.
As a parent, how can you plan a summer vacation that fosters positive intellectual and social growth? Use the following suggestions as a guide for addressing the special needs of your gifted child.
#1: Provide Cultural & Learning Experiences
Summer days offer many opportunities to expose your gifted child to art, history, science, and other extracurricular learning activities. Take advantage of nearby institutions such as museums, theaters, science centers, and planetariums to ensure that your child enjoys a wide variety of cultural and learning experiences. This list of field trip ideas, while geared toward homeschoolers, is filled with practical suggestions for making the most out of the learning opportunities in your local community.
If you have the time, consider planning day trips or vacations to new places. Include visits to historical sites, particularly those that offer guided tours. Encourage your gifted child to examine the exhibits carefully and ask questions of the tour guides. Once you're back home, your child can continue to learn about the places you've visited via books and websites.
Closer to home, public libraries offer a plethora of resources for parents and families. Library programs are generally free and can include informal book clubs, writing groups, and makerspaces, designated areas where patrons can explore new ideas and materials. Many libraries post events calendars on their websites, which can serve as fruitful sources of fascinating activities.
#2: Work on a Summer Project
Your gifted child may have his or her own ideas for a personal project, and summer could be the perfect time to make it happen. Writing a novella, animating a short film, or designing and building a simple robot are all feasible projects for the summer months.
Look for contests in your child's special field of interest, such as a writing, a game designing, or an art contest. The sense of competition can add to the fun and spur children on to do their best work and complete projects.
#3: Consider a Special-Interest Summer Camp
Summer camp is a time-honored tradition. In recent years, summer camps have grown beyond camping, hiking, canoeing, and telling tales around the campfire. Newer, specialized camps cater to a wide variety of interests.
Here are just a few examples of special-interest summer camps your gifted child might enjoy:
If you have a gifted child, the benefits of a specialized summer camp can be two-fold. First of all, these camps allow your child to explore a favorite subject in-depth and gain some hands-on experience learning and creating. Secondly, your child will have the opportunity to communicate with peers who share a similar enthusiasm for a particular topic, which can help to build social skills and even spark long-term friendships.
#4: Offer Home Improvement Opportunities
The National Association for Gifted Children recommends involving your child in household activities as a way to get him or her thinking beyond the boundaries of the classroom. These endeavors might include cooking, landscaping, and room redesign.
If your child is interested in science and technology, you could work together to figure out the best ways to save energy in your household. Your cyber-savvy child might have some suggestions for building and securing your home computer network. Ecologically minded children may enjoy setting up a composting station or working to reduce household waste. Through these activities, your gifted child will learn to work with real-life constraints such as time and budget.
These activities will keep your child grounded during the careless days of summer. They will also empower him or her to use special skills to solve household problems.
Promote a Summer of Learning
Help your gifted child to see summer vacation as an opportunity—not only to relax but also to indulge in thinking, exploring, and inventing—with a focus on favorite interests. Your child will look forward to the creative freedom summer brings and learn to incorporate the lessons learned in summertime throughout the year.
To engage your gifted child with challenging lessons all year long, check out these courses from Study.com.