Enrichment During School Breaks

Soon, schools will be entering their summer break in the U.S. Whenever your school has an extended break, consider it an opportunity to enrich your child's life by taking advantage of programs through universities, summer camps, and travel.

So often, parents don't take the time to find out what's available in their area. Some programs can be very expensive but are great if you can afford them. However, many are low-cost, no cost, or have financial assistance/scholarships available.

Talk to your child about their interests. Depending on their age, either you or your child can research what they'd like to do. Gifted teachers/coordinators, parent support groups, and the Internet can all reveal potential activities.

The objective is not to turn the break into another school term! Your child needs to be engaged in the process and willing to participate. It can be fun and pique their interest at the same time.

Personally, what worked best with my family was turning family vacations into learning experiences. It didn't matter if we were in the Rocky Mountains, on the Pacific coast, at Niagara Falls or at Epcot in Disney World - we turned it into a learning experience.

For example, my daughter was fascinated with dinosaurs as are many young children; but as a gifted child, her fascination went far beyond reading books about dinosaurs. Living near Pittsburgh, our first trips were to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History to see the dinosaur bones and to learn everything we could about them. Whenever a famous paleontologist was in town, meeting them or going to a lecture became a family outing.

When we went on vacation to Colorado, Dinosaur National Monument was on the itinerary. While visiting relatives in Texas, we made sure to visit the famous dinosaur tracks. Even while visiting colleges in NYC, we took time to go to the American Museum of Natural History. Today, she is in college majoring in Cultural Anthropology with paleontology still on the back-burner and my son recently moved to Colorado citing memories of family trips there when he was younger!

Oftentimes, my husband and I thought our children weren't paying attention, but years later we have seen these experiences bear fruit in their lives. We have witnessed how our children view the world, the expanded interests they have pursued, and the maturity they have gained through participatory learning. Education outside the classroom can bring about powerful changes in the life of a gifted child.

Updated: April 1, 2015
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