Summer Learning on a Tight Budget
Summer learning doesn’t need to break the bank. If your child is watching her friends participate in expensive summer programs or far flung travel, you may be feeling needless pressure to do the same. Stop worrying. Summer learning is about connecting your child with meaningful activities and people who inspire them. It is about having fun and growing your child’s sense of accomplishment and cultivating his desire to learn more. These goals can be accomplished on a shoestring budget with just a little extra thought and planning.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Start a book club and invite friends.
- Keep a close eye on your local paper’s event calendar. Museums, libraries and universities offer many free events in the summer.
- Attend free concerts. This is a perfect way to introduce new styles of music to your child without the financial risk.
- Write, direct and star in a play. Depending on the age of your child, this production can be a simple event put together in less than an hour or an elaborate summer-long process involving the help of siblings and neighborhood kids.
- Produce a neighborhood talent show.
- Help others—volunteer at local hospitals, nursing homes and animal shelters.
- Check with museums in your hometown to see if they offer discounts. If you intend to visit particular museums or nature centers frequently, consider becoming a member. The cost savings can be significant.
- If you have a Bank of America or Merrill Lynch credit or debit card, get free tickets to participating organizations (over 150 sites in 33 states). Visit http://museums.bankofamerica.com for more details
- Ask a family member or a close friend to spend some special time with your child pursuing a shared interest.
- Home Depot and Lowe’s offer monthly building workshops for kids ages 5-12. The projects are simple, fun and free.
- Check out what similar offers local businesses in your community are providing.
- Go camping in your backyard. Make it a big deal. Take a week to plan this event together and be sure to have special foods and plenty of good stories on hand.
- Enjoy nature. Set goals. Are there 15 trails you want to hike together before the summer is through?
- Train for a race.
- Write a book or a song or a new computer program.
- Create an “I love learning” festival in your neighborhood, maybe on a cul-de-sac or in your neighborhood park. Get your community involved by giving them a chance to share their knowledge and interests with others. This is a great way to connect with the community and have a lot of fun learning something new.
- Hold an end-of-the-summer art show. Have an art auction with extended family and donate the proceeds to a charity your child learns about over the summer.
- Tinker and invent amazing new things.
- Teach the dog new tricks.
- Plant a garden.
- Visit the fire station and court house.
- Connect with retired professors who share similar interests as your child.
- Learn about astronomy and explore the night sky together.
- Connect with others. Spend one-on-one quality time with each member of the family. Visit relatives that are nearby but that your child doesn’t often see.
- Research your family’s genealogy and share your findings with extended family. For a list of questions to help get the process started visit http://genealogy.about.com/cs/oralhistory/a/interview.htm
- Visit elderly shut-ins in need of company.
- Perform random acts of kindness.
Summer learning isn’t about how much you spend, summer learning is about fun!