Sometimes summer days can feel long and blur together, but what is the secret to an unforgettable summer? Perhaps, it is the same as a memorable life.
At SAOTG, we hold routines and organization to a high standard and advocate for students to
create structure. We help students consider their habits because small daily habits lead to
success. We also desire our students to think creatively, be inspired, and take initiative! The
summertime is the perfect opportunity to create a semi-structured environment to thrive.
However, the idea of spending time at home is no longer as appealing compared to the
beginning of last summer. Boredom and dissatisfaction are inevitable, especially if days are spent only mastering the latest video game. The stakes are here this summer because the circumstances have changed.
So what are simple ways to provide students with an experience that will stick?
When it comes to learning over the summer, let’s consider the concept Barbara Oakley has
popularized: focused learning and diffused learning. A focused learning experience is an
uninterrupted time of focused attention with apparent results. At this time, the student is using executive functioning skills to ignore unrelated information and be attentive to a specific subject. They are laying neural pathways to access at a later point in time as they focus on the subject.
The time spent daydreaming or mulling over ideas in a relaxed setting is considered diffused learning. It is the time of making connections to the bigger picture. While taking a walk or falling asleep, our brain is still at work. It is the combination of creativity and execution that leads to something of worth. Even though our culture seems to place more value on focused work, it is essential to use both of these modes to our advantage. We can do this by engaging in focused learning sooner rather than later so that our brain has time to make new connections in our downtime.
Novelty is also something we should consider as it releases dopamine in the brain, creating a memory-boosting effect. New experiences and new information are necessary for us to be
interested in learning any subject. Throughout our day, we are operating out of habit. However, even the slightest change in our routines can create an opportunity for more creative thinking as our brain is primed to capture the new changes. The result is to intentionally create a focused learning environment, encourage relaxation and daydreaming, and insert simple surprises into the daily routine.
I stumbled upon this TEDtalk quite a few years ago, and it left a lasting impression. At the age of seven, young Dustin dressed in a business suit every day. Brilliant and determined, he landed interviews at the top companies of the world; however, he found himself disappointed by the interviewees’ lackluster responses to his questions. Later, Dustin Garis coined the idea of LifeProfit, which is turning an ordinary moment into something memorable, and it is
relatively simple. He, now, runs a successful consulting business based on the motto, “Life is
not the number of days you live. Life is the number of days you remember.”
For a memorable summer, incorporate times of focused learning where your student can lay
methodological neural pathways, times where your student’s brain can wander and process the material in a relaxed setting, and times where the mundane is disrupted with new experiences. There are ways to simply introduce change into our routines, such as buy food you have never tried before at the grocery store, change your bike route, read outside under a tree instead of indoors, try your exercise routine at a different location, send a letter. Exciting adventures will leave a lasting impression. Utilizing a combination of the routines and novelty mentioned above will help your students create a memorable summer filled with growth and excitement.