Counter’s Corner: Four Authentic Ways to Keep Your Child Engaged and Learning This Summer

The end of another school year and the beginning of summer is always an exciting time. Students of all ages look forward to sleeping in, play dates with friends, and fun in the sun. Summer is a great time to hit the reset button, unwind, and make our schedules a little more flexible. In addition, it’s also a wonderful time to look at learning from a different perspective.

Summer enrichment activities benefit students by keeping their minds sharp and by encouraging new learning opportunities throughout the summer. In this article I’d like to explore some nontraditional ways that children can learn this summer- through quality family time, observing nature, and making connections through play and exploration. Learning can and should be fun. As William Yeats noted: “Education is not the filling of a pail, but rather the lighting of a fire.” Here are some education-based ideas to spark your children’s interests and ignite their love for learning this summer:

Inspire Creativity and Explore Unknown Interest and Talents

Children who participate in art and creative activities are known to develop their social and emotional skills on a more advanced level. This summer try to explore opportunities for your child to be more creative, by equipping them with the materials and resources to:

  • Develop a board game
  • Paint on canvas
  • Draw on butcher paper
  • Take and develop photos
  • Write a book
  • Plan a scavenger hunt
  • Write and illustrate a comic book
  • Decorate a kite or photo frame
  • Create a crossword or word search
  • Decorate a scrap book    
  • Make scented soaps
  • Make homemade jewelry

Exploring Nature, Birds, and Gardening

Many wonderful learning opportunities can be found in your own backyard or in a nearby neighborhood park or nature sanctuary. For example, children can visit a nearby park or garden center to draw and take notes on different plant species, collect leaves, and flowers; and then research their findings.  They can also observe birds and record the bird varieties from different areas in a journal. Another activity to tie Reading and Writing into your child’s summer learning, is for them to read about birds and plants; and then write and share stories about what they observed and learned by exploring nature. Math enthusiast can create data tables and bar graphs, to show how many of each plant they counted.  Children can also use a ruler to measure seeds and plant heights, and create a blueprint for their own butterfly, hummingbird, herb, or vegetable garden. These various activities will infuse a wide array of skills in the planning, planting, and harvesting of different types of gardens; all of which are an excellent way to boost Math, Reading, Writing, and Science skills in a new and fun way.

Cooking and Baking For Fun

Cooking and baking are both kinesthetic ways to learn. Children will enjoy selecting and preparing old or new favorite dishes. Following directions and measuring ingredients, are also excellent ways to integrate Math into cooking and baking activities. Studying different cultures and foods from various regions, is also a neat way to include Social Studies into a cooking adventure.  Family Themed Cooking Nights and Team Baking Competitions, encourage positive competition, teamwork, and foster quality family time. Children can also gather and write their own recipes- this activity is an excellent way to challenge young readers and writers.

Pen Pals and Book Clubs

Hosting a book club in your home, local library, or coffee shop is a great way to promote intrapersonal relationships and social skills. To find a pen pal for your child, you can ask family members or friends that live in other states or even other countries, if they know any school-age children that could also benefit from a new friend.  Both of these activities are a great free way to engage Writing, Reading, and Grammar into weekly lessons; along with exploring new genres and unfamiliar authors.

The beauty of all of these summer learning activities is that they incorporate learning something new, building confidence, and sharing our successes. I believe by implementing them into your family summer routine, you will help your student avoid the dreaded “summer slide”; and it will help your family look at continuing summer learning as an adventure, not as a chore. Enriching our children’s lives with a love for learning always yields positive results, and will return them to school in the Fall, with new knowledge and meaningful experiences gained.

I would love to hear what your thoughts on this subject or education are. Please send any comments or questions to:

Jennifer Counter lives in Katy with her daughter, Lauren Aleena. She is also the owner of Counter’s Tutoring Connection. Her tutoring center is located at 24662 Kingsland Blvd, Katy, Texas 77494. For information regarding tutoring please visit or inquire via email at or via phone at 832-341-6621.

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