With the start of the summer vacation, we at Makouk think it’s time to share some creative and easy ways to engage your child in educational experiences over the summer.
At Makouk, we provide educational experiences to children in different forms, but for the sake of this article, we’ll focus here on the easiest and simplest ideas you can implement with your child to engage and widen their horizons and also deepen your relationship during these few months of summer vacation.
The idea is to use different questions and techniques that build upon each other over the course of the summer holidays, so that by the end of the season, your child would have more or less experienced a holistic learning cycle that involves tackling a variety of attitudes and skills and a wide pool of knowledge.
We’ll focus here on 5 main skills we’d like to invite you to work on and develop with your children over the course of the next few months:
Simply telling them to look around and pay attention to details will teach them to consciously observe and understand what’s around them which lays the groundwork for questioning. Children are observers by nature. Your job is to make them conscious of it to lay the foundation for the new skills to come.
Asking them “why?” things are the way they are is the first step to harnessing their curiosity to discover what lies beneath concepts around them that may seem obvious or absolute.
To answer the “whys” they will learn to research and find possible and plausible answers.
Analysis is what they do with all the information they collect after research. It is about transforming all this information they gained from research into concrete knowledge they can explain.
This is one of the most important skills that your child needs to have to learn and grow; to take the knowledge and information they have learned to the next level; to make sense of things and connect them together.
So how can we achieve a learning cycle with all these skills mentioned above using simple and fun activities at home?
Easy! We start with a question and take it from there.
Here are 5 questions you can ask your child:
1- What are my favorite things at home?
What are the child’s favorite things at home and/or summer house? Why? This could be an open discussion with parents sharing their favorite things as well.
Then choose 5 things and have a simple chart with these sub-questions: What is it? What is it made of? Where is it made? What was its journey before it reached us?
These are all questions that the child can try to answer over the summer by researching, reading, asking around and posting updates on a chart so all the information is there by the end of the summer. That is when your child will have accumulated knowledge of the origin of things.
2- What are the four things I use the most?
What are the four things your child uses the most? Have your child write or draw these four things and what they are used for on a board, wall, or large paper surface.
The next step is to take a journey into the past. Ask them if these four things existed 15, 50, 200 or even 1000 years ago? What would have replaced them if they were not there? This helps the child explore how things evolve over time, and understand how humans’ needs change and develop.
3- Where have I been in Egypt?
Print out a map of Egypt and have the child use different symbols on the map:
- A square for locations they’ve already visited.
- A circle for places they’d like to visit.
- A triangle for places they know something about.
- An X for places they’d like to know more about.
The child can afterwards research locations and places they don’t know, reflect on places they’ve been, etc. This helps the children develop a tangible geographical perspective to where they live, where they come from, and what else is out there.
4- Why is the sky blue?
Inspired by the Question Mark Project , you can ask your child a few open-ended questions about things we all take for granted:
- Why is the sky blue?
- Why is North upwards?
- Why is blood red?
A question can be asked each week/ month and a challenge can be made to find the answer to this question. Children can also be invited to pose their own questions to things they’ve never thought of answers for before.
5- What has been happening this summer?
Keep records of major events that are happening this summer: a friends gathering, a birthday party, a good meal, etc. :
- Create reflective discussion videos of what happened and ask your child how they felt during each of these events?
- Have follow up questions like: Did you meet anyone new? Did you learn anything new? Can we do it again?
This can alternatively be turned into a scrap book with pictures and accounts of favorite things that have taken place, reflections of feelings, new friends and new experiences.
For most of these questions, you can easily work with your children on developing their own educational resources and reflection sheets that they can use for exploration.
We recommend you use lots of colors, recycled material and pictures when applicable to make the experience more exciting. As you follow through with all the activities you’ll be surprised at the new and exciting questions that your children will come up with and the endless experiences you will share with them. We wouldn’t be stretching it if we say that after this home summer project, your child will change the way he or she thinks and your bond will definitely be stronger than before. So enjoy!
Nairy Abd El Shafy
Nairy Abd El Shafy, Educational Officer at Makouk, is an enthusiastic social activist with a passion for community service and social work. She has worked and volunteered in non-formal education, self-expression and intercultural learning with children, youth, adults and refugee communities in over 3 continents. She appreciates food, travelling and believes that fun learning spaces are created through play.