Choose Your Own (Educational) Adventure

Whatever your kiddo is interested in, there’s an enrichment program that specializes in it.
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Summertime has arrived. School is out for the summer, and children everywhere are jumping for joy. However, just because school is not in session doesn’t mean that the educational journey needs to stop there. Luckily, Cincinnati has a variety of fun, engaging educational programs for students to participate in throughout the summer.

Collage by Carlie Burton; photos via stock.adobe.com

Need to get them started with reading? Whether it’s the world of Stuart Little or the rhymes of Dr. Seuss, books are our passports to the world and the importance of early literacy is paramount. This can be quite daunting to parents, and that’s where Read Ready Covington comes in. Read Ready Covington is a city-wide early literacy initiative that helps families, caregivers, and educators prepare the littlest readers to become future leaders. By using free access to online learning applications and other educational resources, this program fosters an environment for lifelong learning that’s collaborative, comfortable, and fun.

Collage by Carlie Burton; photos via stock.adobe.com

Got a junior scientist in the house? If you have a little Iggy Peck who’s always building some sort of gadget or gizmo, the Ohio Invention Convention is the way to go. Encouraging kids to view challenges as opportunities (growth mindset, anyone?), this Ohio nonprofit helps harness knowledge into your kiddo’s most marvelous superpower. Students K–12 are eligible to participate in the Invention League’s free Invention Convention Program.

Collage by Carlie Burton; photos via stock.adobe.com

Does your daughter dream of being the next Sally Ride? Space travel might well be the highest and most ambitious glass ceiling for women to shatter, and the Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC)’s STEM Girls program equips the next generation with all the tools needed to, well, take on the world (no big deal or anything). The CMC offers free programming for students in grades 3–8; and all kids, regardless of gender, are welcome. During these STEM-rific sessions, kids have the opportunity to meet women actively working in STEM-related fields and enhance their skills through hands-on presentations and activities.

Collage by Carlie Burton; photos via stock.adobe.com

Is your child gifted and looking for more? Gifted kids need to be challenged, and enrichment program ExploreMore! is designed to meet the high-level needs of academically, creatively, and artistically gifted students. ExploreMore! classes are for students in grades K–6 with courses offered in an ever-changing variety of science, mathematics, visual and performing arts, and original interdisciplinary studies. It’s the full STEAM menu of options sure to have your gifted kiddo reaching higher than they ever thought possible.

Collage by Carlie Burton; photos via stock.adobe.com

Does your kiddo love the great outdoors? The benefits of time spent in nature are numerous, yet so many kids (and adults) remain criminally disconnected from the natural world. Take heart! There are world-class programs available to put kids feet-first in the wide and wonderful world. In Cincinnati, the Roaming Naturalist facilitates programs that help kids explore and experience nature, using the great outdoors as the classroom and Mother Nature as the tenured professor. The Roaming Naturalist empowers young minds to explore nature through immersive, hands-on experiences that encourage curiosity and creativity.

Need your teen to put down their phone and get their hands dirty? Kids these days seem to be permanently staring down at their screens, disconnected from, well, life. Happily, the Cincinnati Nature Center hosts a variety of service opportunities specifically for volunteers ages 13–18 on weekdays and weekends. While your teen might initially give you major eye rolls and sighs, the Cincinnati Nature Center is known to work magic on this hard-to-please age group, opening their eyes to the beautiful—and yes, Insta-perfect—natural world. Bonus? Next In Nature programming might count toward your teen’s community service requirements!

Collage by Carlie Burton; photos via stock.adobe.com

Is your teen musically inclined? The benefits of music education are well-documented; however, most teens get little more than a weekly block of time devoted to this wonderful art. The solution? The Music Resource Center, a multifaceted center that uses recording and performing arts, as well as life-skills mentoring, to empower and bolster teens. This is a place that truly speaks to the beauty of music—and its power to connect us in a way no other medium can.

…and if you have a musical kid and live in Price Hill, try MYCincinnati. Some kids are just born with music in their hearts. MYCincinnati is a free music program for Price Hill students in grades 3–12 that helps support and foster your child’s musical proclivities. With a mission of making music accessible to all, MYCincinnati provides kids with free, high-quality, top-level musical education and experiences—all in a safe and warm environment.

Collage by Carlie Burton; photos via stock.adobe.com

Does your kid love to tell stories? Oxford’s very own Miami University is home to the Ohio Writing Project and offers camps for elementary and high schoolers alike. Led by highly respected instructors and local authors, these rigorous workshops are aimed at unlocking your young writer’s creative potential, with exciting prompts and peer collaboration akin to what you’d find at any prestigious liberal arts college—in an accessible and affordable package.

IS your young writer female or TGNC? Writing is such a wonderful outlet for creativity and expression—something all kids need, but especially beneficial for TGNC (trans and gender nonconforming) kids. And having a safe space to foster such self-discovery and growth? That’s priceless. Welcome to Women Writing for (a) Change, a local nonprofit dedicated to the art of writing as a way to enhance self-esteem and build skills in creative self-expression. Youth programs are open to girls, teens, young women, and TGNC youth in grades 4–12 (there are designated All Gender offerings, too) and are designed to help participants hone and strengthen their authentic voices, develop their ability to speak out through writing, and deepen their belief in their own creative intelligence. Now that’s something worth writing about.

Got a future Amanda Gorman on your hands? Poetry is one of the most beautiful forms of expression and a wonderful way to encourage self-awareness and critical thinking. Elementz is a celebration of hip-hop culture in all its richness, from dance to rap to poetry. The troupe works with local high schools to coordinate the ECHO Youth Poetry SLAM (formerly known as Louder Than a Bomb) and state-wide Poetry Out Loud competition. Enroll your kid in classes and watch them gain confidence, presence, and killer word skills (take that, Wordle!).

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