Organizing Your Home for Summer Learning

 Organizing Your Home for Summer Learning

by Rebecca Kochenderfer

Most likely, some percentage of your child’s summer learning will take place at home. You’ll want to start the season off right with a special space that cultivates all of the essential elements of deep learning—experimentation, exploration, creativity and play.

Activity: Create Discovery Stations That Inspire

Benefit: Discovery stations support creative pursuits and hidden talents.

Do you have a young artist, scientist or musician in your family? Maybe you do and you just don’t know it yet. Accessible, organized spaces are especially helpful in supporting creative pursuits of this kind; they may even help uncover latent skills and hidden talents. If you have the space to do it, design specialized work areas throughout your home and outdoors. These spaces don’t need to be large; find corners in and around your home you think might do the job. Think of these as ‘discovery stations.’ Designate places where special projects don’t have to come down but that you can simply tidy up at the end of the day.

When my children were young, we set up an art area, a science center, a cozy reading nook and a space just for music. For fun, I left out a microscope and instructions for the kids to stumble upon ‘accidentally.’ The piano’s cover was always left up—an open invitation to come and tinkle the keys. Our covered patio made a magnificent art area that I stocked full of tempera paints and a lot of Play-Doh. The dining room wall became a giant bulletin board where we’d display my children’s art.

You can keep these spaces fresh by periodically adding new resources. For example, unfamiliar books, maps, science equipment, art supplies, sheet music and treasures found on a walk will always catch your child’s attention and draw him back for more play and exploration.

When preparing spaces for summer learning, look around your home and ask yourself:

Are the tools my child needs accessible?
If you aren’t available, can your child safely get to the things she needs or is she beholden to you each time she wants to begin a new project?
Is there space to run freely and make colorful messes?
Is there an area where noise is acceptable—or better yet, encouraged?
Is there a place to go to escape all of the noise and have time alone without siblings?
Does your child know she is welcome in these spaces?
Let these questions be your guide as you prepare your home for a summer of playful learning.

For these and more great ideas, please see Rebecca’s newest book, The Summertime Survival Guide for Parents: How to Create a Summer of Wonder, Discovery and Fun!