3 Summer Engagement Ideas For K-12 Students

Let’s face it. Students love summer. No school to wake up early to. Long days by the pool or on the baseball field, sleepovers, and, of course, time for movies, video games and Snapchat.

With this in mind, here are a few ideas for keeping kids engaged and fresh for the fall, with insights from a great article via Harvard University’s Making Caring Common Project.

  • Spend meaningful and scheduled time together: Students are used to schedules, and while summer offers a reprieve, they are more likely to adhere to some planned summer activities if they are consistent and, of course, fun. The activities can be as simple as taking them out for ice cream, or as engaging as taking them on their favorite hike. With consistency, students will come to cherish this time together, making it much easier for them to open up to you. What better environment to ask your kids important questions  than over an ice cream cone?
  •  Engage them in community service: Students are more likely to be passionate about community service if they are passionate about the community they live. When I introduce community service projects with my students, we dare to dream big. Let your child know that they can truly change the world. Engaging them in community service, either through an organization they are passionate about, or just by researching issues that affect their city, can be truly empowering for a lifetime of helping others. And, it’s a great way to foster discussion and develop civic skills. It’s also a great way to incorporate technology – you could have your child email an important community liaison. There are a lot of great ways to introduce kids to email safely, which is a skill they’ll definitely need.
  • Teach AND preach empathy: As a former history teacher, I taught my students that history was empathy in action. You can easily foster empathy by reading a biography or watching a documentary about a heroic historic figure, living or not. And, if by chance your child chooses a villain (and kids love villains) – even better still. What better way to learn than by the mistakes of others? Being empathetic will ensure your child will be adaptable, friendly, and well respected for years to come. Here’s an interesting discussion on how kids think of heroes.

More key insights on how to foster caring relationships can be found here.

And remember – summer is a really important transition for kids. All year, classes are on the same team, working through wins and, let’s be honest, a few losses. Then, in summer, the team breaks up. In fall, all the students get traded to a different class, with new teammates. Forming this team, full of many new dynamic relationships, takes considerable effort. The more fun, meaningful engagement you can provide in summer, the more prepared they will be for an excellent start in their new grade!