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Learning doesn't take a holiday
Learning doesn't take a holiday
Posted on 08/11/2017
By Christine Peets 
Even if children aren't in school, there are many opportunities for them to keep learning, and it's to their advantage to keep doing so.  They may not even know that they are still learning. Take summer camp for example. Whether it's for a few hours, a day, or a sleep away camp for a week or more, and it might seem like play, there are a lot of educational opportunities to: 

● Learn the benefits of team work. Whether it's building a fort, playing a game, setting up a tent, building a fire, or preparing food, kids learn team spirit, and that meeting the goals of the group is more important than meeting individual goals. Everything has to be age-appropriate, but kids will often surprise themselves, and others, with what they learn to do.

● Become more independent. If parents or other adults are always telling kids what has to be done, and when it has to be done, they don't learn too much about decision-making. In summer programs, kids learn how to do things on their own. They learn how their decisions affect the group, and learn how best to make things better for themselves and others, by themselves.

● Learn new skills. While it might be hard to get kids to help with a meal at home, somehow they don't mind joining other kids to do it at camp. Same goes for taking care of a tent or cabin. They might see it as fun, while cleaning their room at home seems like a chore. Kids also learn new games, perhaps a sport, and develop other talents they might not know they had. 

● Build character. Kids will learn leadership skills, and they will develop communication skills— too important traits that will serve them well when they get back home, and back to school. Summer programs also help kids to learn to be resourceful and self-reliant.  
Many educational experts site learning in a new way, in a new environment, as a great way for kids to develop the ability to become critical thinkers, and critical learners. And they thought they were just having fun! Of course parents might want to join in the fun too while helping out or visiting kids in a camp program, but as kids get older there are ways for parents to transition from being hands-on helpers while staying engaged. This is true for camps as well as for kids moving from pre-school to primary school. Check out this article, posted on the Upper Canada District School Board Parent Involvement Committee's Facebook page.  
Some families may not have the time or resources to have their kids in summer camp programs, but these skills can be learned in many other ways, through a neighbourhood sports program, a shared parenting group, or by volunteering to help take care of younger children in the family or in the neighbourhood. There are also many programs at local libraries and museums that offer opportunities to make something new, learn a new craft, or develop a skill, and many of these programs are free or have very low fees, usually just a few dollars.  Just because it's summer, that doesn't mean that learning has to take a holdiay.   
Christine Peets is the Writer in Residence for the Upper Canada District School Board Parent Involvement Committee. (UCDSB-PIC) 
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