Saturday, April 12, 2014

What to do this summer?

There's a certain story that schools are so academically-focused these days that it's necessary to preserve summer as open, non-academic time. I think there are a few problems with this story -- first, that most schools still aren't that challenging, and second, this is not an either/or prospect. Summer is a long time, and you can do some academic oriented camps and some s'mores type camps too, and still have space for hanging out in the backyard.

We're doing 2 weeks of YMCA-type camp, and 2 weeks of an outdoor program. Then we have some relaxed time at the beach and at home. But I imagine as my kids get older, we'll start looking at academic programs too. Gifted kids really like to learn, and often summer presents an opportunity to learn a new subject, perhaps in an environment with your intellectual peers. If a kid isn't challenged enough at school, then summer programs can be a lifesaver. I have very fond memories of the 3 weeks I spent during 3 summers at Northwestern University's CTD program. I learned a lot about geometry, computer science, and modern world literature, and I was around people who really liked to learn too. It's a fun combination.

There are all kinds of programs if you know where to look. The Davidson Institute has pulled together a list of resources and links for me to share with you. The NAGC, for instance, has an article on How to Choose a Summer Program. The Davidson Institute produced its own article on Tips for Parents: Finding a Summer Program. You can find a list of links to summer programs sorted by topic, and residential vs. day camp by following this link. And finally, the Davidson Institute hosts its own summer THINK Summer Institute for highly gifted kids ages 13-16. They can earn college credits in programs during this time. Here's the THINK home page, and the deadline for applications is now April 30.

What are you doing with your children this summer? I'd love to hear about people's experiences with various summer programs too.


Notherbarb said...

My son never wanted to do the Saturday Enrichment or summer classes at NU. "Mom, karate and soccer are on Saturday!" And the best park district summer camp ever, in the woods, the ravine, the beach, beat out an NU summer. "Mom, I'm in school all year. I want to do something different." Until he aged out of camp. Then he started going to computer camp with his big brother. First as a day camper, then overnight. This may be his last summer as he wants to get US History out of the way next summer. But this summer he'll be in a leadership position, more rights, more responsibilities, and TA in a class. He's very excited about that. Then maybe a one-week leadership camp some of his friends will go to, or hanging out at the beach, and x-country "camp" in the early a.m. He'll be busy, tired, and still have lots of free time to enjoy his music, his math, and his friends.

nicoleandmaggie said...

NU was too expensive for my sister and me. We did other uni academic away camps instead. And took college classes from the local Uni.

My son is going to what is probably his last summer of museum camp this year. I'm at a loss for what to do next summer.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say that I would not be surprised if gifted people just wanted to relax over summer break. The school year can be extra intense for us (inclusive classes, gym mandates even for people might prefer their cerebral side, teachers or administrators who do not understand gifted people, managing expectations, disputing test answers and on and on). So, it might be very necessary to just take a good long break. Especially if your gifted student has an incredible memory, you might not have to worry about them forgetting what they already know.

Anonymous said...

My son just noodles through summer. He reads 3-4 hours everyday. He will also still play immense fantasy scenarios with his playmobil in the evenings. During day he goes to my mom's (an 'old' grandma who watches soaps and has no internet). He is super excited this summer to help he with remodelling the house and yard. Then his first camp for kids with amputations. He goes through cycles of math obssession: he might not do any math then did 3 years of math in less than 3 months so he has a pile of math books but hasn't touched any of them. Oh, and he wants to learn Russian this summer and bought some books and tapes on that: he has a friend who speaks Russian but my family does not know any.