By Richard M. Cash, Ed.D., author of Self-Regulation in the Classroom: Helping Students Learn How to Learn. This post was originally published June 30, 2014
Part of our Cash in on Learning series by Richard M. Cash, Ed.D. Click to read other Cash in on Learning posts.
It never fails that right about this time in the summer, kids (and some adults) start to say, “I’m bored!” They’ve done all the camps, played all the games, and are starting to take the out-of-school time for granted. Well, to help your child (and you) make it through the rest of the summer, I’ve got CREATIVE ways to fill the time. The options below are for kids and adults alike:
C: CHALLENGE Yourself
Take on an advanced level of math, music, sport, or other endeavor to push yourself beyond your comfort zone. This could include going online to find challenging math games, learning to play or just understand a new type of music (such as jazz or madrigal), or researching how cricket and squash are closely related to baseball and tennis, respectively.
Read a book outside your area of interest. My grandmother was a great lover of mystery books. When I would spend summers with my grandparents, I would read some of her old-style mysteries. I learned the common patterns of this genre and found obscure authors not many would know (such as Margery Allingham and Freeman Wills Crofts). Go to your local library and ask the librarian to suggest a good book that is not on the popular list.
Relax while you can. This is especially important for adults—particularly teachers. During the school year, we often run on an amount of sleep that is less than optimal. As much as you can, go to bed early and sleep late. Take naps—my favorite activity of summer! Or just lounge around doing a lot of nothing. Recharge your batteries!
Reflect on what you have accomplished. You can journal your thoughts, post them in a blog, or record them. Spend some time thinking through your successes and learning experiences of the last school year. Think about what you did well, what you could do better, or where you want to spend your energy next year. Set a plan for what you want to accomplish next year.
An important part of health is to get out and exercise. Our brains function most effectively when we are healthy and active. Go for a bike ride, walk, run, swim, do yoga, or lift weights. If you are already into any of the aforementioned, then try a new exercise routine such as CrossFit or Zumba. Consider using smartphone apps with exercise routines that can push your limits in short periods of time. Check out these apps: Hot5, Runkeeper, or the imaginative Zombies, Run!.
Act on something—or learn to act. Acting on a passion such animal rights, environmental stewardship, elder care, community pride, or helping the less fortunate not only brings others joy, but also is very fulfilling. Taking an acting class can have great benefit for your self-esteem and poise. And besides, acting classes can be a lot of fun! If you’re really brave, after your acting class, put on a performance for your neighbors—have the audience pay an admission fee that you will donate to a local charity.
T: TRY Something New
Learn to ride a unicycle. Learn to play the harp. Learn how to double-Dutch jump rope or ride a skateboard. Learn to play cribbage or Schafkopf (in English: Sheepshead). Learn to juggle. Write a short story or craft a short film (either animated or real-life). Think outside the box for ideas, or think of something you’ve always wanted to do but didn’t have time for—this is the time to try it.
Investigate something about your community, culture, or history. You can really dig into some amazing information by heading to the local library, history center, or community center, or by looking online. Many local libraries or historical societies have a wealth of information about our past.
Beyond looking at famous or influential people, research the common, everyday person. Look at what average people did: what they wore, where they worked, what they ate, and what was normal or extraordinary about their lives. Investigate how they communicated with each other; how long they lived; what their political views were; what they did for entertainment; what kind of music, art, and theater they enjoyed; or what sports they played. Learning about our past can influence how we view our present and future.
Volunteer to learn about others and give back to your community. Many organizations and agencies are in need of volunteers. Choose one where your talents can be utilized or one where you will be challenged. Each summer during high school, I volunteered for an organization that assisted young adults with cognitive disabilities in a day camp. I helped with day trips, field trips, craft projects, and teaching day-to-day tasks such as ironing, washing clothes, and cooking. In the process I learned so much about empathy and how I could give back to others. Volunteerism is a great way to learn about your community and about yourself.
Explore your community. Now is the time to find out about those “off-the-beaten-path” gems in the area. Go on a scavenger hunt of unique places in your town. Make a game of it by challenging your friends to find the most obscure fact, interesting person, earliest historical site, or largest (or oldest) building. Create a map for others to follow or post coordinates for a GPS search. Make your exploration a chance for someone else to learn about your community.
Spend these remaining weeks of summer being CREATIVE. Check out your local municipal resources or library for more ideas when you can’t think of anything to do. Be sure to document your adventures on a blog or discussion group or via video. You will want to share your CREATIVE adventures with others!
How do you stay creative during the summer?
Richard M. Cash, Ed.D., writes the monthly Cash in on Learning blog posts for Free Spirit Publishing. He has given hundreds of workshops, presentations, and staff development sessions throughout the United States and internationally.
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