How do I Choose the Best Summer Curriculum?

Josie Myers
Josie Myers
Field trips to historic sites, like the Statue of Liberty, promise an educational experience.
Field trips to historic sites, like the Statue of Liberty, promise an educational experience.

Choosing the best summer curriculum is a similar process for any level of student. Whether a teacher is choosing a plan for her preschool group, or an adult learner is choosing their plan for summer college courses, the same principals apply. Summer curriculum should focus on the most effective use of time, and incorporate hands-on fun into the plan.

Long classes that are held in a lecture hall generally aren't a good idea during the summer.
Long classes that are held in a lecture hall generally aren't a good idea during the summer.

Just about all colleges and universities offer a summer curriculum. Summer classes offer the opportunity for students to finish school earlier than the normal four-year program, catch up for those who are behind in their plan, or can lessen the workload during the regular school year. Summer curriculum tends to be intensive and demanding, so choosing classes where intensive exposure will serve specific long-term educational goals is the best idea.

Summer lessons should be centered around activities that engage the students.
Summer lessons should be centered around activities that engage the students.

There are some classes that naturally do not lend well to the long daily hours necessary for summer curriculum. Courses that are primarily lecture-based, like psychology and history, can be daunting and difficult to pay attention to when faced with several hours of straight lecturing. Likewise, a course like art or music history can be challenging. Long hours of listening to recordings or staring at slides of art can become long hours snoozing in a lecture hall, especially during the summer, when many people traditionally schedule vacations.

It's important for children to continue reading throughout the summer.
It's important for children to continue reading throughout the summer.

The choice of courses depends largely on the interest of the student. For students who can read quickly while churning out large papers in quick time, writing and English courses can offer some more personal attention than during the school year. Courses that offer hands-on learning, particularly those that can be held outdoors, are appealing during the summer months. Science classes with labs can keep hands and minds busy during long hours. Courses like geology and environmental science may even get the students outside to enjoy the warm fresh air. Intensive foreign language immersion courses are another popular option during the summer.

A teacher or home-school parent planning courses for their summer camps and schools should use some of these same principals. Keep classes fun and interactive. Do not expect children to sit for hours on end any more than an adult would be expected to do the same.

Summer is a time for a break from the classroom norms. Rather than focusing on lecturing or worksheets, try to center lessons around activities that engage the children, and encourage discussion and interaction. Science experiments, games that include trivia and math, art projects that encourage free thinking should be included. If possible, try to arrange field trips that can be both educational and fun, like trips to aquariums, zoos, museums, parks, and farms. If field trips are not an option, try to bring in visitors like zoologists or musicians who offer the chance for unconventional learning. Also, look to local libraries for reading lists and special programs that run throughout the summer.

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    • Field trips to historic sites, like the Statue of Liberty, promise an educational experience.
      Field trips to historic sites, like the Statue of Liberty, promise an educational experience.
    • Long classes that are held in a lecture hall generally aren't a good idea during the summer.
      Long classes that are held in a lecture hall generally aren't a good idea during the summer.
    • Summer lessons should be centered around activities that engage the students.
      Summer lessons should be centered around activities that engage the students.
    • It's important for children to continue reading throughout the summer.
      It's important for children to continue reading throughout the summer.