When my brother and I were growing up, around this time of year our father would summon each of us for a private conversation about our summer plans. Every year it began the same way: “Nina,” he’d say, “I want you to have a meaningful and productive summer.” In his view, those long weeks of summer needed to be planned for and used wisely – but it was up to each of us to think about what had meaning for us, and about how to make the time productive. He was eager to help us build our plans and make our arrangements but the job of finding our path of meaning was ours. My brother and I used to tease him about the “meaningful and productive” speech but my father knew what he was talking about. We had plenty of down time but we also loved working hard at our passions -- theatrical productions, music-making, camp jobs, or swimming lessons. (Thanks, Dad!)
So what is the best way for a gifted youngster to spend those summer months? Your gifted kid is gifted, and s/he is also a kid. Some want to spend the summer months indulging their love of learning. Others look forward to pursuing their love of athletics, or nature, or art. And some will look forward to unstructured time in which to read or work on a personal project. All of these are wonderful ideas and I urge you not to pressure your child into participating in an academic experience if that is not what s/he is looking for right now.
I hope all of you with school-age children will help them think about making their summers meaningful, productive, and enjoyable. Here are some lists that might help.
- The apparently tireless blogger The Common Mom has assembled an incredibly exhaustive and well-researched listing of academic camps, nation-wide.
- The Davidson Institute has just put out their January eNews-Update which includes listings of day and residential programs of special interest to gifted students. These listings are primarily focused on academic programs but they include several outstanding arts and outdoor programs too.