By Amian Frost Kelemer
Associate Executive Vice President
Macks Center for Jewish Education
No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks! This ditty has been in the mouths of school children since vacation was invented! But just because school is out for the summer does not mean that learning ceases.
The summertime is a tremendous opportunity to discover. Discovery leads to learning.
Spend more time outdoors and gain an appreciation for G-d’s creation! Learn some of the blessings that the Rabbis organized to help us appreciate the world around us- including blessings for seeing the ocean or traveling to far places.
Take the opportunity to focus on the details. For example, with a more gentle summer schedule, stay longer at the Shabbat table sharing ideas and personal philosophies. What could be better than learning about each other? Each child is a whole world and they have ideas and thoughts to share. If you need help getting started, the Shabbat Box of Questions http://www.pitome.com/shabboxes.html is a great concept. You can get your set at CJE!
Last week, my son noticed a lightning bug for the first time. His wonder was apparent. We had a good time learning about the habits of the lightening bug and acknowledging G-d’s creatures great and small. And in the mix is the certain magic that comes with summer discovery. No tests, no pressure … just pure unadulterated joy in learning and experiencing new things. One of the nicest things about summer discovery with your child is that you discover too!
This summer we planted our first ever vegetable garden. With my notorious black thumb, I was not too confident that our ambitious garden, started from seeds, was going to sprout anything – maybe not even weeds! When we picked our first zucchini last week, we delighted in the discovery together. We talked about how we were partners with G-d to bring this about. We reviewed all the steps we had to take until we got to the end result. Reciting the blessing over that zucchini (lightly sautéed with salt and pepper!) was the most meaningful beracha my son could have made. And I gained a bit of confidence and new knowledge along the way.
The more you learn together with your child, the more you will learn about your child – and yourself– and the more your child will want to learn and discover. Take this summer to benefit from learning and teaching – “Lilmod u’l’lamed”- and grow together through a wondrous summer.