Summer is a time for relaxing in the pool, playing at the beach, and catching up on rest. Yet summer is also a large stretch of time without continuous academic instruction. While some children are able to maintain their end-of-school-year academic levels, many lose valuable skills over the summer. Help your child prevent summer brain drain with the ideas detailed below:
1. Reading. One of the most important ways to prevent academic regression is to make sure your child continues reading. At the start of the summer, take a trip to your local library or book store and have your child choose a set of books to read. Try coming up with a theme, like animals, insects, summertime, etc., and have him select books on that theme. For a summertime theme, for instance, he can select a series of books at his level (along with some more complex ones that you can read to him) on fishing, sea shells, camp, vacations, etc.
2. Educational trips. While beaches and amusement parks offer well-earned play time and relaxation, build in some educational trips to stimulate your child academically. Plan day trips to science museums, childrens’ museums, historical sites, and the like. Before you embark on your adventure, have your child perform a mini research project. Explore the website with her to see which exhibits will be showing the day you attend and study topics you might see (birds and reptiles, for instance, at a history museum). You can even take a virtual tour online to build up excitement. Have your child write down a list of items she may see and create a “treasure hunt.” If she finds all of the items while exploring the museum, perhaps she can pick out a memorable item at the gift shop at the end of the visit.
3. Technology. Kids often use iPads and computers for mindless gaming and relaxation. Yet there are many apps and websites that are great for reinforcing learning over the summer. iWrite Words is a useful early childhood app for developing handwriting and fine motor skills. With the Book Creator app, elementary and middle school students can create shareable e-books with words and images. Learn Your Table is a great website for practicing multiplication facts. Short Vowel Word study is also a useful app for reinforcing basic word decoding, and Grammaropolis is an interactive website for practicing grammar.
4. Outdoor learning. Turn outdoor time into learning time! To reinforce math, writing, and critical thinking skills, try growing a vegetable garden with your child. Choose the vegetables you plan to grow, then have your child draw a diagram of the garden layout and make a list of the seeds you need to purchase. Once the vegetables are planted, have her monitor and chart heir growth. She can count the number of veggies produced and predict which ones might produce the greatest outcome. You can even have her write a report detailing the process and results.
5. Journaling. Journaling is a great way to reinforce writing skills over the summer. Have your child keep a daily journal during the summer months, detailing any trips, events, or activities that took place – or even just thoughts or feelings from that day. You can even give him some writing prompts to help him get started, such as “Summer is my favorite time of year because…,” “My favorite summer sport is…,” or “This summer I am most excited about…” Let the ideas flow!
Your child certainly deserves some rest and mindless play over the summer. Yet several months without academic work can lead to academic regression and a real case of brain drain. Try these activities with your child to keep up learning and take advantage of summer in a fun, productive way.