One of the biggest challenges the parent of a gifted child may have is making sure that summer vacation is one that embraces the child’s needs while at the same time, provides downtime.
Summer is a wonderful time! It’s lazy mornings and picnics by the pool and just a slower time to enjoy life and family. It’s a break from the hectic pace of school schedules and obligations.
But if you have a gifted child, it may be a challenging time as well because he or she may be on summer break, but their brain still has unique needs to be met. How can you allow your out-of-the-box thinker to embrace childhood and summer fun while simultaneously enriching her brain and allowing it to develop and grow at the perfect pace?
One of my favorite things about summer is the lack of rigidity in the schedule. Summer is the time where we can actually explore some of those (seemingly) off-the-wall concepts and thoughts my son always seems to bring up at a time we just can’t explore more.
We pull out our science experiments books and go to town. I especially love finding the ones I grimace at during the school year because they seem to be too involved or laborious, and we dig even deeper in exploration while having a blast together. A slower, less full schedule allows us that time together.
There are also many camps these days that are geared toward Science, Technology and Math (STEM) and Arts (STEAM) topics and they typically enthral the gifted child because they are not topics usually explored as in depth in the classroom.
I used to have a love/hate relationship with camps in that I felt like they stole that precious summer time that my son and I were supposed to have together, but once I realized how energized he was from some of the camps he attended, I realized that they gave us even more opportunity to talk and discuss and share together in a really authentic way that means a lot to both of us.
Instead of stealing time from me, camps give us a really great platform for capitalizing on other time together we have.
On that note, another great way to spend time together but give your gifted child unique opportunities in the summer is to volunteer. Volunteer Match is a great way for you to find something you and your child can do together, and for many gifted children, a passion in a field is often clear and identified early on. Capitalize on those passions in a way that gives back, and builds in your child a drive to work in stimulating opportunities that are rewarding in ways a regular school day just can’t offer.
If you do want to continue building skills and working in some ‘practice time,’ I love Turtle Diary and Go Noodle. Both are free services and have tons of opportunity for your child to explore and learn more about what might interest him or her. Go Noodle encourages movement and mindfulness, which strengthens any child’s learning, and let me just say — the movement opportunities are super fun!
And speaking of fun…ensure that your child has FUN! We tend to expect so much from our gifted children because they are capable, we often run into overscheduling even during the summer. Take the time to hike or vacation in a neat place, but also indulge in good-old-fashioned lemonade stands (entrepreneurial education at its finest!) and water balloon fights (aerodynamics!).
So many ‘gifted’ programs give our children more work at an accelerated pace. Let summer be more like summer of old-outdoors and full of action. The neural connections created when doing this will be welcome to the brains that are regularly taxed to do many different things in school.
Go! Enjoy! September will be here before we know it!