Plan for a Summer of Learning

By Cindy Thompson, ISU Extension and Outreach, Family Life/Family Finance Educator,, (641) 229-6655.


Summer time is fast approaching and for most families, that means no school. Does it also mean it’s time for the lazy days of summer? Not necessarily.  Instead, plan for a summer of learning.


Being involved in activities beyond school can help children learn more about their world. New experiences increase children’s sense of well-being and self-confidence. These activities stimulate children’s brains and strengthen their belief that they can accomplish a goal.


Outside-of-school opportunities also promote children’s social skills and improve their ability to handle emotions and have good relationships with others. They can reduce children’s risk for developing problem behaviors and drug use. These opportunities provide new learning that can improve overall attitude and personal conduct.


For parents, these summer experiences can offer the security of knowing your child will be in a structured, supervised environment. They can provide a safe place for children while you work.


Many organizations and businesses offer summer exploratory programs for children.  Look for daycamps offered by ISU Extension, local churches, county conservation, YMCA or scouts.  Broaden your child’s experience in the arts by enrolling in community theater, music or art studios, or dance or music camp.


Foster your child’s independence by sending him to an overnight camping experience.  Ignite their passion for science by taking them to a science center, museum, zoo or animal refuge.


Don’t forget about history and culture.  In northeast Iowa, there are three Safaris for families offered by county tourism and conservation boards.  A Driftless Safari is a scavenger hunt of historical sites and places of interest in the region.  Learn more at


Keep your children active through Park and Rec, swim clubs, fitness center program or summer sport programs.  Teach them about healthy choices by planting and maintaining a family garden.


Don’t forget about the local library as a place to explore a wide range of interests.


Think about your child’s interests as you explore. Match your child’s energy level to the activity. Some children might prefer a soccer clinic or swimming lessons, while others would choose an art class or theater camp.


When planning children’s summer adventures, keep in mind that while children greatly benefit from these activities, all families need some unstructured time. Children and parents can become overwhelmed if they have too many responsibilities.


As parents, you are the single most important influence on your child’s life.  When you encourage children to try new things, they see that you believe in their abilities, thus teaching them to believe in themselves. Take the opportunity this summer to help your child explore the world beyond school.  Plan for a summer of learning.


Learn more about raising healthy kids at

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