Something different in the way of summer vacation requirements for students

Remember those summer reading lists that teachers are often required to assign, and which students sometimes complete (often grudgingly)?

Seems to me and many others that kids these days don’t have nearly enough time for unstructured activities outside. ie, playing. Insyead they spend too much time playing manipulating little or big electronic devices like the one you are reading this on.

This is unprecedented in the history of our species, and if it continues at the current pace, future generations will be utterly lost when the power goes out.

Here is a different set of requirements or suggestions or goals we could set for our young’uns over summer break.

1. Sail a small boat / paddle a kayak or canoe / row a boat
2. Catch some fish
3. Swim in a lake/river/pond/pool/ocean
4. Build sand castles and trenches
5. Destroy those sand castles and trenches
6. Learn which plants and critters are dangerous, which are good to eat or otherwise useful
7. Watch the dance of the planets across the Milky Way
8. Go on hikes with friends (no adults!) in the woods or desert or tundra or farmland or in a new city
9. Get lost and find your way out
10. make a fire outside and cook your own meals
11. Tell original, silly or scary stories
12. Play unorganized pickup sports with no adults in charge
13. Sleep outside
14. Help take care of a garden, a farm, and/or domesticated livestock
15. Learn how to swim underwater for longer and longer distances
16. Paint, draw, sculpt, do pottery
17. Learn how to shoot an arrow or .22 rifle
18. Hunt small game if possible (might have to wait until fall)
19. Read whatever you like
20. Go to museums
21. Visit relatives and friends
22. Write letters, emails, diaries, tweets, etc but not too much
23. Ask an older relative or family friend to show you some interesting skill or trick or to tell you some stories about how things were like 50, 60, 70 years ago…

What items would you like to add?

Published in: on August 8, 2013 at 12:32 pm  Comments (17)  

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17 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I have often felt bad for my own kids, for they lacked the freedom that I enjoyed growing up. I tried to leave them alone as much as possible, and often kicked them out of the house. Yet I would have been upset if I found out they were up to the crazy things I did as a kid. My parents only found out about 10 per cent of the shenanigans. Almost always the punishment did not overwhelm the fun.
    When I started to teach two different AP classes I refused to give over-the-summer assignments before the classes even started. “Work Hard, Have Fun, Grow Up” was our motto.

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  2. I would just add: be a kid. Although they might not know what that is.

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  3. […] Brandenburg has a list of activities that will help your child develop as a resourceful human […]

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  4. Pick wild blackberries and make cakes, crumbles, jams! Catch tadpoles and watch them turn into frogs then release them. Have a water fight!

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  5. I would add that there’s an irony in a list of things kids should do over summer as an opposition to reading lists for the summer.

    What about digging in the dirt or playing in the sand (why not just play rather than immediately start engineering a sandcastle unless one really wants to)? Or riding a bike (with or without training wheels)? Or laying in the grass? What about completely unproductive and fun play? There’s knitting and crocheting and weaving and sewing too, if kids think those would be fun to learn.

    An awful lot of the list reminded me of something that some grownup things kids should know, which doesn’t feel all that different from being in school. I’d still be annoyed by some grownup telling me I should learn to hunt or shoot or fish. (If the economy collapses, I’ll become a vegetarian.) We have a garden and the kids learn about it just because they’re curious, before running back off to dig yet another hole under the deck. That’s plenty.

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  6. Write some poems, longhand.

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  7. Find a favorite tree to climb and play in.

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  8. Find some old records—or recordings online—of music from 30 or 50 or 70 years ago. Listen to some of the popular songs from those days and have fun with them. Invite your friends over to listen and maybe even DANCE!

    And then, find out more about the time in which these songs were popular. Ask your parents, or your grandparents, or the old woman who lives down the block, what it was like in those days, when they were young and they loved this music. What was happening in our country then? How did people feel about things in the world? And, how did kids live back then and how did THEY feel about this music and those times?

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  9. Catch fireflies in a jar (poke holes in the lid first to let them breathe), watch them light up your life, and then set them free!

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    • Oh, yeah, great idea.
      (Unfortunately I saw many fewer lightning bugs this year…)

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  10. Learn self-defense and situational awareness
    Learn CPR
    Learn how to cook
    Read at least one ancient classical text

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  11. Ugh, don’t talk to me about the summer. It makes me angry that my 17-year-old, who was working at her much-beloved camp all summer, has to spend her free moments during a family trip to New York for a wedding reading one of the three books she must complete, and then at home tackle two major assignments for two of her AP classes. Summer homework make me crazy, I really don’t think it serves any purpose other than to signal “this school is rigorous and we make our students work hard.”

    There is value, to just, you know, living life. It kills me that during our spare moments in one of the world’s most exciting cities, I have to nag her to read her books, and that when we get home she can’t just relax and watch a baseball game with her dad. We put so much pressure on how high school kids to work so hard and then wonder why our family life is disrupted. The last summer before 12th grade should include lots of wool-gathering, as far as I am concerned, as the college choice that looms is very important and how can a child make it when they must do weeks of homework and of course include some significant community service project that will look good on that college app?

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  12. Learn a different language–or be like Tolkien and invent several!
    Write backwards.
    Turn a book upside down and read it.
    Say words backwards, at least your name!
    Either way, have fun! :o)

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  13. These are great & the extra ideas on the comments too! In NYC… such activities might seem better suited for family trips OUT of the city. Certainly there’s no shooting the pigeons here. Some city workarounds we’ve tried and some we might yet try are to:

    Travel to the end of one of the subway lines. Arrive hungry, so that once there, we can all try some food that’s “new to us.”

    Get out on the harbor.

    Find some of the quirky free programs for kids: urban farming; river science; free kayaking; poetry.

    Visit someone who has zero toys in their house.

    Take a neighborhood walk and get “lost,” or have a creative-yet-useless goal like seeing where the cross-street actually ends.

    Start a treasure box of stray change and buttons to add to your shells and stones from the “real” vacations. Sort these, make a fake museum for them, etc. Also great for sewing sock puppets!

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    • These are great!!

      Let me add: suburban, urban, and country-side kids make sure they get to spend time in the other types of ‘habitat’ if possible.

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  14. Lie on your back in the grass and just watch the clouds go by. And take a nap while you’re at it.

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