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(opens in a new tab) 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 you would like to have completed. Have your child help in the planning, purchasing, and completion of these projects. Summer is a perfect time to plan a fun project that will help your student develop scheduling skills.
- Play school: Reverse roles and have your student create a quiz for the Learning Coach(opens in a new tab). Children love trying to stump their parents. Allow your child to be the teacher, and have family members act as the students. Your child can plan activities/worksheets/lessons.
- Scrapbooking activities: Have your child help organize pictures/topics, and allow him or her to journal about activities.
- Family reading time: Set aside a time each day for family reading time. Try The Knock, Knock Game when you hear your younger students read. The child reads but knocks on the table when he or she comes across a difficult word for you to help with. Sometimes you find that your child remembers the word the next time it comes up in the story.
- Time in the kitchen: Have your child plan and cook a meal.
- Writing activities: Use your imagination to come up with a fun writing contest with your kids, or even challenge them to write a book over the summer.
- Send the kids outside: Studies have proven that physical activity helps grow not only strong muscles but also strong brains. From old favorites like tag, leapfrog, and wall ball, to more organized games like basketball and baseball, outdoor activity stimulates both the mind and the body. So send your kids outside to play. Bonus points if they make up their own games!
- Become a backyard astronomer: With the warm and clear nights, summer is a perfect time to observe the stars. All you need is a star chart and your own eyes to view many interesting celestial bodies. If you'd like to kick it up a notch, you can always contact your local amateur astronomy group. Many of these groups host frequent star parties, where folks can gather and observe the heavens through telescopes.
- Observe wildlife in your area: Even in urban areas, wildlife can be everywhere. There are many low-cost books for identifying birds and animals. Visit your local library to pick up a guide, and then see how many species you can find in your area.
- Be a tourist in your own town: Check with you local Chamber of Commerce or City Hall for guidebooks about your town. Then go visit all the things a tourist would normally go see. Or discover the artwork of famous museums around the world by going on virtual museum tours(opens in a new tab) with your kids!
- Play video games: I know what you're thinking: How can video games be good for growing brains? But certain kinds of games, particularly those that require problem solving and reasoning, can improve a student's ability to learn. So let the kids play Civilization IV(opens in a new tab)-just be sure to still send them outside.
- Share your own ideas for summer learning fun in a comment here!
Implementing just a few of these suggestions into your summer schedule can have huge academic rewards for your children when they return to school. Additionally, the summer should be a time for some downtime and family fun, so remember to keep things low-key, simple, and relaxing!