As a teacher, I feel very proud at the end of the school year because of the growth in learning that my students have shown. But, I am also aware of the “summer slump” many students experience. Many times when I test student reading skills when we return back to school, their levels have gone down since the end of the last school year. Some students, more than others.
Parents need to ask teachers what they can do over the summer to keep their children learning.
Here’s a long list of FUN ways kids can learn over the summer beyond using a pencil and paper.
1. Outside Discoveries
Get them outside! Chat with them about their discoveries and ask questions to stimulate further learning. Kids have a natural curiosity. They can spend hours outside just looking a bugs and things and enjoying and appreciating nature.
2. The Grocery Store
Imagine the learning that can take place at the grocery store! (I know taking kids to the grocery store can be more grief than it’s worth. Sometimes, when it’s possible, you can take 1 child each time.)
Not only do kids discover new things to see, interesting foods, etc. it’s a GREAT way to have children be part of the meal planning. There are also fantastic opportunities for children to learn relevant math. I always had my own children weigh things in the produce department (measurement) and compare prices of items. (Problem solving, subtraction) I loved teaching my kids about the ingredient content of foods. I especially loved seeing their faces as they compared the sugar content in various cereals.
The grocery store can be such a valuable learning experience where kids are learning about healthy food choices.
3. Physical Learning
Physical learning and exercise is also important. Just going outside and having fun whether on vacation or not is extremely important to a child’s growth and development. Fun and learning through physical experiences can totally go together.
How many laps can you do? (Counting)
Playing a game of Marco Polo in the pool. (Building listening skills)
Let’s discover seashore creatures (science, curiosity). Don’t forget to put the creatures and beach items back (environment, compassion, appreciation for nature)!
Cooking can be SOOO much fun with kids. When my kids were little we spent time in the kitchen during the summer baking and learning kitchen skills. Cooking uses reading skills (recipes), math skills (measurement: volume, mass, temperature etc.), science, safety, cleanliness (wash your hands!) and patience (wait til the cookies are done!!)
This was great for rainy days. But what about those HOT summer days? Children can also be part of family BBQ by learning outside cooking skills or setting the table (counting place settings etc).
5. Learning from Modeling
Children also love to learn things that their parents do. Modeling by a parent has a very strong influence on children. (Think of the math involved in the building process!)
When parents model reading and writing at home (by both Mom AND Dad), children learn that those things are part of daily life – not just things they do at school.
6. Reading and Writing
Imagine the multitude of times/places/reasons for reading and writing through the summer! My own children always had a writer’s notebook or journal with them. It used to lay around everywhere to be picked up upon inspiration. Kids learn so much by doing their own writing.
Bringing books on road trips or camping trips can be a real life saver for parents and prevent boredom in the kids. (Pack a flashlight!)
When my kids were little we camped a lot. Is that one of your fun family vacations too?
Think back to all the learning I discussed above. All of that learning can be put together during a camping experience!! I guess that is why I used to love camping so much! Real life learning at its best!!
So you see, as a teacher and Mom, I see the incredible importance of the parental role during the summer. It doesn’t need to be work books. It can be meaningful learning that is super fun!
8. Re-setting Routines
One of the best pieces of advice someone gave me when my first daughter was just a wee one: start putting her to bed earlier and earlier (in 30 min increments) a week before school starts. What great advice so I will pass it on here. Children (and parents and teachers) need to feel well rested to be the best they can be. Children THRIVE on routine. Setting that routine back into their life before school starts is very important for children to begin re-setting their mindset for school.
Have a great summer!!
About the All-Star Blogger
Shelley has been a teacher for more than 20 years. She’s the mother of two daughters. Shelley loves teaching, traveling, dogs, nature, and working out. Check out her website, TheWriteStuff