When the last dismissal bell rings for the school year, students everywhere will run out of the building with summer learning as the last thing on their mind. Instead, they have big plans for how they will spend their summer. Sleeping in, days at the pool or playground, family vacation, and just taking a ‘brain break’ from school work and schedules.
For parents, though, this time of year can be a challenge. With kids home for the summer, parents need to find ways to keep them engaged and active for those months. Parents must find a balance between relaxing and fun, but also making sure that their children don’t lose all that information they learned the previous year in school. The good news is, there are summer learning opportunities all around. You don’t have to go far to find fun, enriching opportunities to engage your child in learning during the summer.
8 Ways to Sneak Summer Learning into Your Child’s Summer
Here are 8 simple ways to sneak summer learning into your child’s summer break. These ideas will hardly feel like learning in the formal sense, but they will go far in keeping your child’s brain sharp and practicing skills while they are out of school.
1Take a Trip to a Local Museum
Local museums are full of opportunities for summer learning in a more relaxed environment. Whether it’s a history museum, a museum of life and science, or simply a children’s museum, there are many hands-on opportunities for learning. Be sure to check out your local museums calendar of events, since they often have special programming during the summer for school-aged children that are specifically designed for summer learning.
Other fun day trip adventures could be:
- Head to the zoo or animal sanctuary.
- Visit a historical site.
- Tour a working farm.
- Attend a local festival or sporting event.
2Make Reading a Daily Habit
Daily reading is a great way to build learning into your child’s summer routine. You’ll want to be sure to make the reading fun.
Some simple ways to make sure everyone is reading this summer:
- Allow children to choose their own books based on their own interests. This way, they will be excited about the books they have.
- Build a reading hour or half hour into your day. Use it as quiet time – a time where everyone chooses something to read and spends some time reading.
- Choose a book to read aloud as a family. This can be fun even for older kids – especially if they get to choose the book. Take turns reading aloud as a family.
- Join a summer reading club at your local library. Libraries often have programs during the summer that incentivize reading. It is a great way to add a little challenge to your child’s summer reading.
- Choose books related to the activities you are experiencing that week. For example if you are headed to the Natural History Museum read a book about dinosaurs or extinct animals. Headed to the beach? Grab a book about sea life and search for some in the waves.
3Play Board Games
Not only are board games fun for the whole family, but they are full of educational opportunities. Depending on the games your kids choose, there are opportunities to practice math and reading skills – or even financial skills if there is money involved in the game. Board games can be a great way to encourage your child to flex his or her critical thinking and strategy skills.
Additionally, board games offer an opportunity for children to work on social skills and the sometimes difficult concept of fair competition as they engage with one another during play. For some additional fun, encourage children to create their own board game for the family to play. Have them write the rules and instructions and explain the game to other players.
Playing outside is one of the best ways to sneak learning into your child’s summer. Whether it’s a trip to the playground or pool, a family hike, or playing with neighbors in the backyard – get your kids outside this summer. Children spend so much time indoors during the school year, the summer is the perfect time to encourage them to go exploring outdoors. Not only is it beneficial for their physical fitness, the outdoors is ever changing and offers nearly endless opportunities for exploration and creativity.
Look for ways to volunteer with your children in your community. Find out if there are any service days locally, volunteer at a soup kitchen, or help organize donations at the food pantry. Serving in the community will help teach your children responsibility, the importance of caring for others, and empathy.
6Get in the Kitchen
Choose one night a week and let your children choose and cook dinner for the family. Look up recipes together, make shopping lists for ingredients, practice adding up how much the ingredients cost at the store, and talk about measurements and cooking time while food is being prepared. Not only is cooking together a great way to teach practical life skills and encourage healthy eating, it’s also a great way to sneak in some reading and math skills.
7Create a Scrapbook Journal of Your Summer Adventures
Take photos during your summer and create a scrapbook of all your adventures! Use magazine clippings, construction paper, markers, glue, whatever you like to create a scrapbook journal of your summer. Let your children practice creative writing by journaling about each adventure. Be sure to also include everyday photos from the summer, too!
Some writing prompts might be:
- Their favorite part of the adventure or day.
- Something that they learned.
- Something that was surprising to them.
- One thing they would have done differently.
8Explore Their Interests
Finally, use the summer to allow children to dive deeper into their own interests. Whether it’s animals, history, science, art, a specific sport, or dance. Whatever it is, allow them to engage in that activity during the summer furthering their education and their own interests.
Some great ways to do this include:
- Reading books (fiction and non-fiction) about their interest
- Watching a documentary
- Attending a performance or sporting event
- Joining a summer club or attending a day camp
- Introducing them to someone “in the field” – a local farmer, coach, firefighter/police officer, scientist, etc.
Engaging in something your children already enjoy is a sure way to get them excited about learning and avoid the summer learning slump that commonly occurs. Just because school is out it does not not mean that the learning needs to stop. There are so many opportunities for summer learning. With a little bit of planning and intentional play, parents can encourage children not only to keep their skills fresh from the school year, but can also help reignite a love for learning before heading back to school in the fall.
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