Summer break means vacation for children and parents from nightly homework, compulsory reading and morning hectic. But being away from the classroom for a long time has a downside.
Loss of learning during the summer months is a common problem, but there are ways to curb that summer slip. Here are just a few ideas for flexing those mental muscles while having fun.
Let your kids cook
Learning doesn’t always have to feel like learning. Cooking with your kids not only teaches a valuable life skill; It also helps strengthen reading and math skills. Have your child choose a specific meal to prepare, then create a grocery list while sticking to a budget. While preparing meals, children practice skills in sequencing, measurement, fractions and conversions. You will also learn that you actually use math in real life. Here is a fun list of recipes for kids.
Get learning tools delivered to your home
Monthly subscription boxes are a great way to get kids excited about learning. There are companies that offer boxes filled with everything from chemistry experiments to themed reading materials to art projects and computer coding challenges. Most offer a monthly theme, and all the study materials you need will be right at your door. Subscriptions are generally offered in three, six, 9, or 12 month increments with discounts for longer commitments. This is a great way to build anticipation for a new learning activity each month. Here is a large list of subscription box companies, reviews and discount codes.
Encourage your kids to keep a summer journal
Not only does journaling help develop fine motor, reading and writing skills, it also helps children become more attuned to themselves and the world around them. With so much going on in the world, it can be a lot for young minds to process. Journaling helps children process their feelings by putting their thoughts into words, sketches, and doodles. Start by allowing your child to choose their own journal – be it a standard notebook, a themed journal or a binder with a custom cover. Remind your kids that there are no set rules and that this is their safe place to write down anything that comes to mind…then watch the words begin to flow. If your child is struggling to get started or just wants to take journaling to a new level, they can find fun daily prompts here. Who knows, you might have just triggered the beginning of the next great American novel!
Create simple science experiments at home
From making slime to launching Alka-Seltzer and vinegar-powered rockets, doing science experiments at home is a great way to kill some time and remind kids that science can actually be fun! A quick Google search will open the door to a wealth of easy and inexpensive science experiments, most of which can be done with objects found around the house. Science Bob is also a great website with easy science experiments, detailed instructions, and talking points to share with your kids. For visual learners, YouTube is brimming with instructional videos. Just type “Science Experiments For Kids” in the search bar and let the learning begin.
Play a board game
One of the easiest ways to disguise learning as fun is to gather the family around the dinner table for board game night. For young readers, simple word games like Bananagrams, Boggle, Headbandz, and Silly Sentences help build language skills. Qwirkle, Q-bitz and Goblet entertain kids while improving strategic skills, memory and visual dexterity. Proven games like Monopoly and Yahtzee, as well as new games like Tenzi and Rummikub, hone math and sequential skills. For teenagers, Risk and Catan (formerly Settlers of Catan) are good for long-term play and require strategy and logic. And there’s nothing like a classic chess game to build those brain muscles (and get your teen spending more than five minutes in the room with you).
Sign up for a summer reading program
Summer reading programs encourage kids to discover new reading adventures while having fun and earning rewards along the way. The 2022 Hillsborough Summer Reading Challenge, hosted by myON, offers young readers the opportunity to win prizes based on grade level.
Barnes & Noble’s Summer Reading Program offers children from first through sixth grade the opportunity to read through to a free book. Simply download the Summer Reading Diary or pick up a copy at the nearest store, read a total of eight books and enter them in the diary. Once the journal is complete, bring it back to any Barnes & Noble location by August 31st to choose a free book from the list on the back of the journal.
The Hillsborough County Public Library’s “Oceans of Possibilities” summer reading program invites readers of all ages to log reading hours from June 1 through July 31. This year, the library is hosting a Share Your Story Summer Photo Contest, in addition to several virtual events. Reading hours and participation in virtual activities can be logged to unlock digital badges, story recommendations and a chance to win exciting prizes.
With a little imagination, summer can be both fun and educational, and you don’t have to spend hours creating a daily curriculum to make it happen. Have fun with your studying!
By Karen Ring