A Summer Abroad in One’s Own Backyard
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Journey-ARWBAs a college admissions consultant geared towards the world of academia, we are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to keep our students ahead of the curve. Providing tutoring, support classes, and practice tests have become the standard and exciting technology is helping us to broaden our student’s horizons, expanding beyond the limits of our textbooks. This being said, I am constantly plagued by the question of where the sense of curiosity has fallen in the pursuit of a definable education? We are so afraid of the very real concept of summer learning loss that we sometimes lose sight of what it is that innovators spanning history have been working towards. The goal of satisfying their curiosity!

There is a certain feeling of fulfillment that we experience when pursuing our innate interest in trying something new. It’s something that traditional learning cannot teach and our young people are starving to experience. When a family takes a day trip to the Exploratorium and takes photos against the giant “shadow wall” or when passing down the traditions of preparing for a family meal, these moments inspire collective curiosity. They are valuable opportunities that families can use to come together and explore new experiences as a team. With this in mind, below you will find a couple of options for inspiring collective curiosity in the home. What better time than this summer to plan a day for family bonding?

Journeys Through Food

Planning the day-to-day family dinner can be a chore or it can be a fun family activity! Experts from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University cite that,

“ … children who eat at least five times a week with their family are at lower risk of developing poor eating habits […] and tend to perform better academically than their peers who frequently eat alone or away from home” (2012).

What better way to inspire learning than to plan a fun activity around making dinner?

Spend some time choosing a favorite cultural food item and side dishes that you would like to cook for dinner. For example if you were choosing curry, you may find that it is a dish traditionally found in Asian cultures and that the specific spices used in the dish vary by location of the chef.  Find an interesting variation of your collective meal choice and assemble your ingredients making note of specialty stores or hard to find items. Cook together, share interesting tidbits you know about the food, eat together, and enjoy!

Hike and Stroll

Californians are privileged to be surrounded by little natural gems hidden in our backyards. Here are some attractions off the beaten path that encourage curiosity, healthy activity, and good old fashion family fun year round!

Links to local wonders:

  • Mount Diablo State Park– Visit Rock City, the impressive observation deck, and more that 100 miles of hiking trails! Mount Diablo State park is a beautiful place for a summer stroll or family picnic.
  • Fitzgerald Marine Reserve– Check out amazing tide pools and the natural wonders of our coastline. Click the above link to access self guided tour information.
  • The Mystery Spot– Ok so it’s not exactly a hidden gem, but the Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz is an intriguing attraction challenging visitors to question the very laws of physics and gravity!

So before we go spending all of our time in a classroom this summer, remember that spending time with one another away from the tablets, phones, and classrooms is a great way to spark conversation and inspire learning more about one another. Remember, these trips can be as simple as a stroll around your neighborhood after dinner but they are meaningful and encourage curiosity about a student’s environment and home.

By Chanel Pulido