3 secret ways to teach kids this summer

Keeping the kids busy over the summer holidays can be tough – why not try some of these ‘secret learning suggestions’ from mum and teacher Lisa Bradburn? Let us know how you get on!

The Summer holidays are a well-earned break for growing minds. As a mum to three children and teacher-turned-toy-hunter (yes that really is my job!), I’ve always found the contrast between school learning and holiday activities an interesting one.

 ‘Learning by playing’ is a standard part of classroom activity but doing this during the holidays is often more rewarding. Play isn’t restricted to a room, an hour or a week; environments can be ever-changing as you visit friends, family, local attractions or go abroad.

 So why let this opportunity go to waste when we can be easily, enjoyably educating our kids on the sly! Yes! They don’t even have to know we’re doing it.

 Why bother? You may ask. They have weeks of learning ahead and behind them.

 Because I believe teaching children builds a bond.

 We all remember our favourite teachers. And, no, no one’s going to forget their mum or dad, but teaching our children gives us opportunities to influence, mould and cultivate our kids into brilliant individuals full of potent potential while getting to know them a little better.

 This summer, embark on a secret real-life learning adventure with your children using these three very simple techniques

1. Hand-over responsibility

As a teacher, I would give children responsibility all the time – to do homework, work well in pairs and help with setting up an activity. At home, the holidays give us opportunity to extend responsibility beyond chore-orientated tasks (such as making the bed or tidying the playroom) to scenario-orientated tasks such as investigating ideas for a day out, researching where to go, looking up directions, figuring out how much it will cost. That’s history, geography and maths ticked off the summer holiday curriculum!

 Top tips for making this happen:

–          Give responsibility whole-heartedly while guiding and advising as appropriate to age

–          Asking questions like, “What do you think we should do if/when…”, “Can you help me with this please?” makes that ‘team’ feeling come to the fore

 Why this one’s a winner:

Handing over responsibility tells children: we’re in this together, I can’t do it without you, help me, I don’t know everything, you’re important and valued here while giving classroom lessons a real life application.

 2. Nurture creativity

The great thing about creativity is that it can happen anywhere, anyhow. It doesn’t have to involve art and crafts, drawing or making things.

 Top tips for making this happen:

–          On a journey, ask your kids to imagine what the world would be like if all the telegraph poles were missing, if the trees were upside down, if the roads were rivers…

–          Ask them to invent a story about a place you’re visiting, asking questions to help them develop their ideas

 Why this one’s a winner:

Nurturing creativity is particular good if your children worry. Worrying is a form of negative creativity – its imagining scenarios that haven’t happened yet, in a negative way. To encourage creativity and security, empower your children to think about current and future situations in a positive way.

 3. Tell and revise

As a teacher, I’d revisit lessons from the classroom in other scenarios to help reinforce the learning. Holidays are full of opportunities to do this too. What you might learn together about the pond at the park, can be taken to another scenario – perhaps you’re near a river, or the beach – and reinforced.

Learning through nature

 There’s no classroom, desk, white board or computers and out of that context your kids won’t know they’re learning – but I promise you they’ll be absorbing everything they see and hear!

 Top tips for making this happen:

–          Impart knowledge in one scenario (for example: What birds and insects will we find near the pond?) and then ask questions about it in a different situation (Will we find goslings at the beach?)

–          Don’t labour the point – when they’ve got it, move on and develop the learning: what do goslings grow into? What do you call a baby swan?

 Why this one’s a winner:

Reinforcing lessons ensures information isn’t learnt by rote, but is fully-develop by context and can be applied appropriately.

 It’s also a great way to gauge what your kids know and they can really test your own knowledge on a subject! Cue learning together. Going to the library or looking up information online together plays into the first technique: sharing responsibility to make you child feel valued and part of a team.

 How do you secretly teach your children? What techniques have you tried to build a bond with your kids over the summer holidays? I’d love to know your thoughts.

 * Written by Lisa Bradburn. This is a sponsored post *

Lisa Bradburn is the managing director of what2buy4kids – a place to find quality, unusual gifts for kids. Lisa built her business out of first-hand frustration at the lack of interesting and available gift ideas for children. Now, she hunts them down so you don’t have to and provides endless entertainment inspiration for children of all ages.




  1. June 26, 2014 / 12:44 pm

    I do so love that picture of Gemma!
    This post makes me excited for all the opportunities for adventures and learning that the 6 week holidays will bring! Learning and exploring is so much more fun than watching tv!!

  2. June 26, 2014 / 12:57 pm

    Great post – I think it’s easy to let learning slip over the summer and 6 weeks is quite a long time. Great ideas to keep learning during Summer without the ‘official’ sit down learning that children are used to x

  3. Fiona
    June 26, 2014 / 1:06 pm

    Really enjoyed this post…just the kind of suggestions I’m after for the holidays. Lovely photo too! x

    • July 1, 2014 / 3:27 pm

      Really pleased you liked the article. Let us know how you get on with trying out these ideas…

  4. June 26, 2014 / 1:06 pm

    I love the idea of Number one, my two boys are at an age now where they love to be able to be in charge of something and relish the responsibilities!

  5. Katie Campbell
    June 26, 2014 / 1:25 pm

    Good post…my little girl starts school this September, she finishes pre-school on 16th July and school doesn’t start until 16th September so it is a big gap to fill….don’t want to her to feel she is still in a classroom but would like to keep her mind engaged!

    • July 1, 2014 / 3:27 pm

      Starting big school is always exciting, but can be quite daunting too, so keeping the learning going in a fun way with definitely help.

  6. June 26, 2014 / 1:42 pm

    Brilliant post some great ideas love the idea to get them to research what to do !! Really enjoyed reading this thanks !

  7. June 26, 2014 / 8:22 pm

    Lovely post. Love teaching the kids without them realising

  8. June 26, 2014 / 11:09 pm

    This is a great post, I think kids still need to be learning over the holidays otherwise they struggle to get back into it when they’re back at school!

  9. June 29, 2014 / 9:13 pm

    I have huge plans for a summer of learning, we want to give little man a helping hand to start him off on the right foot in September so this summer is all about the reading

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