Summer vacation, educators say, is no time for parents to let their kids forget about academics. Research has shown that if you don’t keep your child’s brain working during this interlude, she could lose, on average, 2.6 months of grade-level equivalency in math skills and as much as a year’s reading level.
It's also important, however, to let kids relax and have fun during the summer. They can have a lot of stress during the school year so it's best to find a happy medium.
During past summers I have always scheduled time for flash cards, workbooks, and reading. But this summer I have slacked off and let it go. The good news is that it's not too late!
Some ways to keep your kids sharp during the summer:
1. Read, read, read. Stop by a bookstore during story hour. Sign up for a summer book club. Visit the library often and let your kids choose books that interest them. This summer my son has fallen in love with the Harry Potter books and is devouring them!
2. Give your kids a small allowance and have them budget out their money. If they're saving money to buy a specific toy have them figure out how long it will take before they have enough. This is a built-in math lesson.
3. Think of the kitchen as a math lab. Ask your child to help you cook and bake. The extra mess is well worth the effort of applying math concepts like measuring and figuring out fractions. Make it a game, too, by asking: How many pints in a quart?
4. During a road trip play “I Spy” to search road signs for numbers, colors and geometric shapes. For older children, estimate and calculate the travel time to your destination.
“This helps kids see the math all around them,” says Trena Wilkerson, associate professor of curriculum and instruction at Baylor University. “Parents can also incorporate these kinds of math-related activities as they visit community resources, such as museums, zoos and even the park.”
5. Turn any activity at home into a teachable moment. For example, beading jewelry with a young child helps support pattern recognition and counting. (Patterns were a huge part of the math curriculum for Kindergarten in our kids' school.) Have some letter beads? Have kids practice their spelling.
6. Conduct a science experiment at home. We love the PBS Zoom website, they have tons of fun ideas. like this color splash activity.
For younger kids try the Teaching Tiny Tots website, they have some fun ideas.
7. To keep writing skills sharp try the age old tradition of writing a letter. Kids can write a letter to a friend, or an out-of-town family member.
Or have them keep a journal to document the fun they're having during the summer.
8. Keep their creative juices flowing by doing some art projects. Art Projects for Kids is a great source for ideas, like this fireworks drawing:
9. Keep kids' memory sharp by playing a matching game. Whether you play one that's more difficult or a simple one like this, kids will have fun and won't even realize they're doing something educational!
10. Don't overlook the great educational computer games and websites out there! My kids used to love Reader Rabbit, and I loved that it was helping them learn.
I'm going to start implementing these during the rest of our summer plans.
It's never too late to learn!
It's never too late to learn!