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How Summer Schedules for Kids Add Structure to Your Summer Break

By: Kim McConnell
creating a summer schedule for kids

When summer break arrived each year, my family was relieved to be finished with school. But over the years, I’ve realized that it’s important not to let our freedom turn into aimlessness. Just like during the virtual school year, my children made better use of their time when they had a schedule.

Creating a summer schedule might sound like extra work, but it’s actually a simple way to pack more fun into each day! To get started, make a list of your summer activities. These can include:

If you’re looking for some new activities to try, take a look at these summer learning resources:

Sample Daily Schedules for Summer Break

After you make your list of summer activities, draft some schedules until you find a few that work. Below are some of my options for a fun, productive day at home.

Schedule A
9:30 a.m. Breakfast
10:00 a.m. Chores
10:30 a.m. Reading and summer assignments
12:00 noon Lunch
1:00 p.m. Educational crafts and activities
2:00 p.m. Hobbies
12:00 p.m. Lunch
3:00 p.m. Exercise, outdoor play
5:00 p.m. Free time
6:00 p.m. Dinner
7:00 p.m. Family time

Schedule B
9:30 a.m. Breakfast
10:00 a.m. Chores
11:00 a.m. Crafts, activities, and hobbies...

Keep ’Em Reading! Suggested Summer Reading Lists for Grades K-12

By: Dan Reiner
young girl laying among meadow flowers reading a book

This summer, make a commitment to have your students read every day! Read with your child, read to your child, and have your child read to you. Whether it’s done first thing in the morning (the way some adults read the newspaper), midday (for a bit of quiet time), or at the end of the day (to wind down before bed), reading is a wonderful way to keep young minds active and engaged in summer learning.

Be sure to visit the library regularly and check out new books so your kids have plenty of fresh reading material to spark their interest. Make an effort to find out if your library has a Book Club for children to join or a Summer Passport experience where children earn prizes and activities for reading books at their grade level and on approved topics. If you find a reading-related program, sign up!

For your convenience, many libraries also offer e-books and audio books available for download to an e-reader, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer from the comfort of home.

And although it may be tempting to, don’t exclude high school kids from the reading requirement! Even if their schedules are filled with summer jobs and other activities, teenagers’ brains can still get sluggish without a daily mental “workout.” Why not suggest a family book club? Have the teens and adults in the family read the same book and set a date for getting together to talk about it over pizza. (Let the kids choose ...

5 Summer Learning Tips for Kids of All Ages

By: Dan Reiner
student entrepreneurs running a lemonade stand

If you’re a Learning Coach for an online student or a homeschooler, you may already be a wiz at mixing learning into your child’s daily activities—but even the savviest parent may run out of ideas over the long summer break!
In our post yesterday, we showcased some ways to avoid what educators call the infamous “summer slide.”

Listed below, you’ll find even more exciting tips for summer learning activities that will engage young minds. Remember to keep your projects lighthearted and varied! Try to choose activities that relate to your children’s interests, talents, and hobbies, and you’ll be well on your way to helping them maintain the academic progress you worked all year to gain. We hope these fun ideas will keep your kids’ synapses firing like Fourth of July fireworks:

  1. Is learning about your state on next year’s schedule? Show your pride and enthusiasm for your state and learn together. Get your child’s attention and interest by exploring some of the key features of your home state in person. Or get started by asking some questions that require a bit of research, such as “What is our state motto? I wonder if any U.S. presidents were born here? Which lake [river, mountain, etc.] is the biggest in our state? Have any famous athletes grown up here?” Depending on your child’s age, you could include your state’s history, government, natural resources, and culture in your explorations.
  2. Do your children like to help out in the kitchen? Let them take ...

Fun Learning Activities for Summer Break

By: Carrie Jean Ross

three young girls exploring nature with magnifying glass The summer is here, and as you think about the lazy days over the summer break, it's important to plan for activities to keep your student thinking and learning. Did you know that many students experience learning loss over the summer if they are not engaged in educational activities? And teachers typically spend between four and six weeks re-teaching material that students have forgotten over the summer.

Instead of looking at summer as “time off” from learning, approach summer as a time for fun hands-on, experiential activities and projects that may not be possible during the school year.

One way to ensure a fun summer filled with rich learning activities is to work as a family to create a list of summer projects. Post the list in a common area in your home. At the end of each week, go through the list with your family, discuss and check off activities that were completed, and add any new activities that came up.

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Art contests with neighborhood friends: Use chalk, clay, crayon, paint, etc.

  • Community service activities: Help a neighbor mow the lawn, wash the car, clean the garage, cook dinner...

  • Camping trip: The camping experience can take place in the backyard. Have your child help plan an agenda and a list of things needed.

  • Household improvement projects: Have your child look around the house to find projects that he or she would like to work on, and/or offer projects that ...

Fun and Games: Play Time Is Learning Time

By: Carrie Jean Ross

board game piecesAs kids start to focus more on sleeping in and swimming pools, many will flip an internal switch—LEARNING OFF, PLAY TIME ON! But the two don't have to be—shouldn't be—mutually exclusive.

There is a wealth of research that supports the idea that children greatly benefit from learning over the summer, and the importance of play in child development is a widely researched topic. During the summer, kids usually get more time to play and really let their curiosity lead them to explore and ask questions, which helps kids' brains stay sharp.

In celebration of National Summer Learning Day, enjoy these ideas for games that help give kids an educational boost while enjoying summer fun!

  1. Take a Chance!
    Monopoly and Monopoly Junior are classic board games that put math skills to the test. Counting money, buying and selling, and making change all reinforce math concepts that many students are learning as early as first grade and kindergarten. Be sure to stop the game as needed to explain and assist with math problems.

  2. Move Over Milton Bradley … Invent a Game
    Encourage children to get creative and develop their own board game. Use a piece of cardboard as the “board,” break out the crayons and markers, and let imaginations run wild. Refer to favorite games like Candy Land for ideas about structure and format. Kids will have a ball making their own playing pieces and even dice with modeling clay. This activity is an artistic way to boost logic skills. ...

10 Ideas to Prevent Slugabeds and Couch Potatoes

By: Carrie Jean Ross

The final day of virtual school lessons ushers in those “lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.” An unstructured schedule and change of focus can provide a much-needed break after a busy school year with an online school. But it can also provide the perfect conditions for spending too much time on the couch and sleeping till the crack of noon. Learning loss and summer inactivity have gained the attention of many in the news recently when First Lady Michelle Obama spoke out about the “Let’s Read. Let’s Move.” initiative to support parents and communities with resources to help kids stay on a path for success.elementary school boy using a jump rope

So, how can you keep kids from being too sedentary this summer? Here are 10 quick ideas for an active summer.

What activities did you enjoy during your summers as a youth?  Your kids would love to learn about what you did.  Think back to your younger days, create a list and share with your kids and with us too!

10 Free Learning Ideas for Summer

By: Carrie Jean Ross

Summer is officially here! I love having my daughter in a virtual school, but I also take delight in seeing her turn in her final assignment for the year. I am also aware that summer is a time when kids experience learning losses if they don’t engage in learning activities, so for some ideas, I checked in with Connections Academy Vice President for Curriculum Dr. Patricia Hoge. She reminded me how simple it is to create opportunities for summer learning.

Virtual School Family Outside Reading

Dr. Hoge says that “When it comes to summer learning, a little goes a long way. Investing an hour or even 30 minutes each day in educational activities will give your child a big advantage come September. Educational opportunities are all around, but sometimes you just need to know where to look or how to look at the things around you.”

Knowing where to look is a great start, so here are 10 creative free learning ideas for summer to kick-start a season of learning fun!

  1. Play Ball!
    Let America’s favorite pastime give your kids a mental workout this summer. The Science of Baseball is a free Web site that offers fun and interactive games (Fastball Reaction Time and Scientific Slugger: See What Makes a Home Run) as well as some great historical information (The Girls of Summer). An entertaining alternative when the game is rained out!
  2. Drive Home Math and Spelling Skills
    Yes, a 15-minute car trip is just enough time to get your NPR fix, but … ...

Take a Virtual Field Trip to the Moon

By: Christine Nakamura

I've taught science to virtual school students at Capistrano Connections Academy for a couple of years now. One advantage of being in an exciting, groundbreaking virtual school is that brick-and-mortar walls don’t define our learning possibilities. So how do we make science exciting beyond the printed textbook? Virtual field trips allow us to overcome limitations of distance, time, lack of access, and money. Want to take an educational and exhilarating virtual field trip to the moon? Here’s how!

By reaching out to the Internet for some great resources, and into your kitchen cabinets for a few ingredients, you can create the moon’s surface! Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

So put on your virtual space suit and follow along…

The first great resource is Google Earth. It’s free and has these amazing tools for exploring the moon:

  • A re-creation of the Apollo 11 landing narrated by Buzz Aldrin
  • High-resolution maps of the moon
  • A historical archive of the original moon-landing photos
  • 360-degree photos to see astronauts’ footprints
  • Panoramic imagery of the moon’s surface taken by astronauts—zoom into different areas and rotate the globe to inspect the craters, rays, and maria

Now you are ready to start tracking the moon.

Ask your child to think about those nights that he or she saw a big, beautiful moon up in the sky. Was the moon in the same spot in the sky the next day, week, and month? Tracking the moon is an extremely helpful method to understanding that the moon orbits around the Earth and we ...

4 Simple Steps to Plan Your Summer

By: Carrie Jean Ross

Our house has been very busy the past week as my daughter is finishing up math lessons, taking finals, and planning for summer break. Can you believe that the school year is ending so soon? Summer is definitely a time for kids to relax a bit and enjoy being young. That doesn’t mean that their minds need to shut down, though! This year we are taking advantage of every sun-filled moment, but will keep learning alive at the same time.

Virtual summer school student studying at the beach

Here are a few ways to help you plan some summer learning fun.

  1. Check for upcoming fairs and expositions in your state using the free fair finder tool at http://www.fairsandexpos.com.
  2. Check your local libraries for summer reading programs.
  3. Sign up for an online summer school course to keep kids engaged in learning during the summer and earn credits needed for graduation. The great thing about online summer school classes is that they can travel with you wherever you go this summer!
  4. Join a summer program at your local community center, or check out the hundreds of activities available at our wonderful state parks:
    http://www.recreation.gov/.

Cherish these wonderful summer days with your kids. Share in their learning and their experiences, take lots of pictures, and don’t forget to wear sunscreen!

Share your favorite summer planning resources with us!