School's Out! Now What?

By Arlene DeVries

Summer can be an exciting but frustrating time for children and parents of

gifted students. The high energy level and intensity of these children demand a

thoughtful response to how they will be engaged outside the school routine.  Parents

may want to keep in mind the needs and personalities of individual students. Summer

provides an opportunity to instill the value systems parents wish to pass on to their

children. Activities may encompass time for physical activity, time for in-depth

exploration, time to develop creativity, time to experience the arts, time to strengthen

family ties, time to give back to their community, and at other times an opportunity to

simply relax and “do nothing.”

The benefits of being out-of-doors and experiencing nature have become increasingly

important in fostering positive mental health. Individual sports that will carry into

adulthood can be introduced:  tennis, golf, swimming, bowling, skating, or walking.

Some students may need the camaraderie of a team sport that allows them to feel part

of a group and an opportunity to make new friends. Arts activities can be experienced

as either a spectator or a participant. Visits to museums, dance, drama, and musical

productions encourage in-depth exploration of the history and culture of the

presentation. These cultural events are instrumental in developing future appreciative

audiences in our society. Participating in music lessons develops task commitment and

stimulates cognitive processes.

Gifted children are often concerned about the needs of others and the inequities in our

society. Summer is a time when families, as a group or individually, can reach out to

others through volunteering. Local newspapers and Internet sites provide an abundance of locations for volunteering. Many youth organizations or religious groups plan family work camps to aid in disadvantaged areas. Local conservation commissions and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers offer educational activities in most areas at no cost. The Internet identifies museums, historical sites, parks, and other opportunities in your community.

Based on your child’s intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual needs, your family

might select summer activities from the following list.

Fifty Things to do When There’s Nothing to do

1. Start a rock or fossil collection; classify what you have found.

2. Learn to play a musical instrument.

3. Offer to care for neighbors’ pets while they are on vacation.

4. Draw cartoons.

5. Read some poetry, write some poetry, submit it for publication, or enter it in a contest.

6. One child-one parent:  go to a fast food restaurant for breakfast.

7. Entire family: go out to eat at an elegant restaurant and engage in stimulating conversation.

8. Paint pictures with water