As a teacher and a mom I love my summer vacation. I love the unstructured time to relax, play, and take advantage of my community – trips to the beach, hiking, Friday Night Music series, and going to the movies are just a few of my summer loves. As a mom and a teacher I also worry about my children losing what academic ground they covered last school year. To help prevent “Summer Slide” I use this time to take advantage of some non-traditional ways of learning along with some more focused lessons. Here is a list of activities and resources that I use with my own children to not only help them not lose any ground, but hopefully even get a leg up on the coming school year.
12 Ways to Prevent Summer Slide
1. READ! Read and read a lot! Set a reading challenge this summer. Try out new genres. Read a book and then watch the movie. Read along with your child so that you can talk about the stories. Join your local library reading program and visit the library on a weekly basis. To help keep library books organized (and not lost somewhere in the house) we keep a designated library book bag. When not being read, the books are kept in the bag.
2. Journal. Set your child up with a summer journal. They can keep notes of what they are doing and places visited. They can add any mementos from activities like a movie ticket and then write their thoughts about the movie. Also add in photos! This is a great way to keep a record of the summer as well as keeping your child writing!
3. Write Letters. Speaking of writing, have your child write letters to family members or friends. They don’t need to live far away – they can live in the same town! Everyone loves to get a handwritten letter in the mail. Plus you would be surprised at the number of children I see that simply do not know how to address an envelope. With email, text messaging, and messenger – it is becoming a lost skill. If you can help your child find a penpal, someone that will keep a written correspondence going with them, all the better. When I was a teenager, my great-uncle and I kept up a regular conversation through the mail about art. Although I never met my great-uncle Rollie in person, we had a wonderful relationship through our letters.
4. Bake. Pull out the ingredients and measuring tools! Working in the kitchen is a great way to practice math skills! Try doubling the cookie recipe and take half the finished product to your local fire station! If your child loves cooking, set them up with a binder and plastic sheet protectors and have them start building their very own cookbook of favorite recipes! Older children might even be interested in starting their very own food blog! My daughter has a food blog: Eating Right With Every Bite. This will also allow them to practice photography and computer skills.
5. Hike. Print out a trail map and review the map with your child. Help them map out a trail and determine distance, elevation, and time required to complete the hike. Look for and try to identify as many different plants, animals, and birds as you can on your hike. Snap a few photos for the summer journal that you are keeping 🙂 Use a free geocaching app on your smartphone and see if you can find any hidden treasure out on your hike! Be sure to pack some healthy and fun snacks along with plenty of water. The thought of stopping at a certain destination for food often keeps the younger ones moving.
6. Visit a Museum. There are so many fun museums around – from local history, to aviation, to tech, to railroad, to art – search out your local museums! Most museums also host free or reduced price days. And many also offer special days for kids where they offer more hands-on activities. It just takes a little bit of homework to find what is in your area.
7. Clean Out and Organize. OK, I know this does not sound like a whole lot of fun, but categorizing, sorting, and organizing are huge skills that transfer to all levels of a child’s life in and out of school. It can be a smaller job like a book shelf, DVD case, sock drawer, or game closet; or a larger job like a closet, kitchen pantry, bedroom, or even the garage. Work with your child to create a plan, turn on some music, and get sorting and organizing! Be sure to celebrate a job well done!
8. Shoot Video. My kids loved playing news reporter. They created their very own news stories, wrote out scripts, decided on parts, and filmed all over the house and yard the latest “news”. They also loved filming talk shows and commercials. Not only did they have a lot of fun creating, they had to work together, used all of their skills, and we all got to enjoy the finished product along with popcorn!
9. Build. Whether it is two sticks, paper and string to build a kite or hammer, nails, and wood to build a fort. Encourage your kids to use their hands and build something! Hit the recycling bin and create a creature. Just help them find an assortment of supplies and encourage their creativity.
10. Plant a Garden. Kids learn a lot about where their food comes from and care when they tend to a garden. This year we added sunflowers to our garden, and we are having fun watching and measuring their growth!
And a few more resources:
11. I love the book Family Math. this book if full of easy and fun activities to do with items from around the house that helps your child think mathematically. I have used this book for years. There are activities for all levels!
12. Kahn Academy. This is an online video based learning program. If you haven’t yet looked into Kahn Academy you need to check it out! I have had my kids of all ages use Kahn Academy. There are lessons in all subjects for all ages. My kids find it especially helpful in understanding math concepts. This is also a great resource during the school year when your child is struggling with understanding concepts in many curriculum areas.
So there you have it. Lots of fun activities that we do in our house all summer long to keep everyone learning and enjoying the extra hours that summer brings us!
What activities do you like to enjoy with your child during the summer that helps foster learning? I’d love to have some new ideas to add to my list!