Academic activities are not often at the top of your child’s summer agenda, with the distractions of outdoor activities, time with friends, video games, and vacations. If a child is not academically engaged over the summer, the content gained throughout the school year can be lost, often referred to as the summer slide, and studies show older children lose more over the summer than younger ones. Summer is an ideal time for children to strengthen their skills while still having plenty of time left over for summer activities. Here are some tips to make sure your child is stimulated and having fun:
Make time for learning
Set aside time for your child to engage in a learning experience each day for at least 15-30 minutes.
Get started on a reading program and make sure your child is reading books that are both interesting and challenging
While all subjects are important, reading is the gateway to learning, so if there is one academic activity children should try to focus on over the summer it is reading. If your child is not engaged in reading, they are not building skills that will help them understand other subjects. Children who continue to read over the summer tend to gain a year or two over their peers who do not. It is crucial to make sure your child is excited about the reading content (children are most engaged in books that they pick themselves), but you also want reading material that will stretch your child’s skills. The books they are reading should be at a reading level similar to where the child was at the end of their most recent grade. Many local libraries have summer reading incentive programs for children to earn prizes!
Review mathematics concepts
There are educational computer games and apps that make mathematics practice fun as opposed to the traditional workbooks, quizzes, and flash cards. Playing certain board games, such as “Sum Swamp” can improve understanding of numbers/ Work on spatial rotation through playing and building/constructing with blocks. Have your child sketch shapes and diagrams.
Take trips to museums, zoos, and nature sites
Children learn more when they engage in hands-on activities, so do not just merely attend these attractions, help your child interact with the exhibits. Have conversations about your visit. Your child will also benefit when you ask them to interpret what they see. Have them explain what they have learned. The more children talk about an experience, the more they remember later on.
Choose STEM camps that emphasize informal, hands-on learning
Hands-on activity based STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) activities, such as coding and robotics allow children to tinker and solve problems themselves. Children learn by doing.
Let your child explore interests that do not fit into the standard, school-year curriculum. For example, encourage your child to follow easy step by step recipe cookbooks, get outside to construct a bird feeder, etc. The key is to get them doing something rather than passively watching television.