By Lisa S. Bass, M.Ed, NBCT
Summertime is full of fun, sunshine, and vacations. Kids should play outside, swim in the pool, visit friends and family, get dirty, and sit by the campfire at night, roasting marshmallows. There is no time for reading, writing, or math, right?
The truth is, all of the above activities are very important experiences in child development. Kids can learn so much through play and interactions with each other. This learning is equally as important as academic growth. Social interactions teach kids to share, trust each other, act kind and caring, show great responsibility, and respect each other. All of this lends itself to creating good citizens who get along both in and out of the classroom.
Equally as important is keeping a child’s academic skills going during the summer months. Summer homework is not what I am referring to, so keep reading.
I am referring to fun ways to keep literacy, math, social studies, science, art, music, and physical education skills thriving while the kids are out of the classroom.
It is imperative to keep these alive in fun ways to contradict the research that shows losses in these areas during the summer months.
How do we keep this momentum going?
- Sign up for your local library’s Summer Reading Program. Many local libraries offer programs to encourage reading during the summer. Prizes are usually awarded for reading and reporting books read during the program.
- Start a Summertime Reading Club. Get a few kids together and let them choose the book they all want to read together. Schedule picnic reading events, discussion fun, crafts related to characters in the book, or maybe even a poetry writing contest related to the characters or setting in the book.
- Encourage Poetry Writing. Surf the web for various types of poetry. Encourage your child to write a different genre each week. Topics can be either summertime related or related to a fun activity your child experienced on a vacation.
- Play online: Did I say use the computer, tablet, or other electronics? There are many educational apps and websites to entice your child to play while learning and practicing both reading and math skills. Surf the web for your child’s favorite character, topics, skills, or ideas for fun ways to keep engaging in learning.
- Write and play music: Invite kids together to enjoy a dance party, encouraging them to sing the songs and dance along. Maybe even start a weekly karaoke event! Music is a blast to enjoy on a hot summer day or a cool summer night.
- Set up a relay race or outdoor game day: Physical activity is crucial to keep the kids healthy. Invite kids together to enjoy fun outdoor activities together. Incorporate literacy and/or math into the game by keeping score, encouraging adding and subtracting games into the play, or having the kids write something fun they played together.
- Read together: Nightly reading for just 20-30 minutes makes a strong difference in a student’s literacy growth. Visit the library, choose from your own-personal library, download a book, or read magazines together. Take turns reading a page, a paragraph, an article, or a chapter. Read, read, read to make it fun. Act silly and enjoy role-playing the characters in the story.
- Play stop-go in the car: While at a red light, ask your child to count by either 2’s, 5’s 10’s, 3’s, or any other creative way. Once the light turns green, counting stops until you reach the next red light. Or…count how many cars of a certain type/color you see with them while driving to your destination. You can even add a fun-twist by subtracting all of the white cars from your total as you drive along.
- Play in the mud and then jump in the shower. Getting dirty is a blast! Keep those science skills alive as your child plays in the mud, picks the stones out of the dirt and wonders: How did the rocks get there? What kind of rocks are they? Why is it muddier one day than the other? What living things survive in the mud?
- Keep track of the weather on a calendar. Count the sunny days, tally the different types of weather, keep track of them on a graph and ask questions about the data collected. Color the graph different colors for each weather-type.
Fun ideas, knowing your child’s interests, being creative, asking for support, and enjoying the time together are so important in keeping the learning alive during the summer months. Have fun learning and don’t let the hot, sweaty days drown your child’s skills away. Keep them vibrant and sunny as they keep up the important skills they worked so hard to learn during the school year. This will keep the momentum going for the next school year, while encouraging them to enjoy the summer break. Summer learning can be even more fun than school year learning. Just give it a try!