It's no secret that, for most kids, summer break means hitting pause on education for a few months. As much as your children want to veg out all summer, that's not always the best way to spend the vacation. Recent research has shown that students can really suffer from "learning loss" as a result of an education-free summer break. A lack of studying over the summer can set students behind their peers and even cause them to lose math and reading skills they acquired the year before.
Obviously, no child wants to spend their summer practicing their arithmetic or completing reading assignments, but dedicating a little bit of time to learning each week goes a long way. Here are a few ideas that will prevent kids from slipping into the "summer slide" without making them feel like they're being forced to attend torturous tutoring lessons.
Create a Reading Rewards Chart
There's something incredibly satisfying about slapping a shiny sticker on a piece of paper to mark an accomplishment. That's why creating a reading rewards chart works: Even if your child isn't a big reader, they'll probably enjoy watching all of their stickers add up over the course of the summer. You can decide how often they receive prizes, or if you want to base their reward on how many books they finish versus how often they read. Plus, the rewards don't have to be huge, just fun. Not only will you keep your kids reading and learning, but you'll also bring a smile to their face when they accomplish their goal.
Incorporate Math Problems in Daily Life
It's surprisingly easy to work math equations into random activities for kids of many ages, especially the younger ones. Going grocery shopping? Ask them how many apples you need if everyone in the family will eat two. Have them calculate how much the total in the cart will be or encourage them to count how many kinds of cereal there are on the shelves. The point is to keep math alive in their lives, even if it's just a little bit. If your kids are a bit older, you can up the difficulty or set challenges for them that require more time and effort.
Break Out the Art Supplies
Although this activity might seem more entertaining than educational, research has indicated that art can help children express their emotions, learn to be creative, and even help with motor and writing skills. You can break out the water paints, crayons, sparkles and glue, whatever floats your boat. It'll be a great break from screen time, and they'll walk away with tangible evidence of their fun afternoon.
Get Involved With Your Local Library
Most libraries offer plenty of activities to engage children over the summer, from reading challenges to weekly events. It provides an opportunity to get the kids out of the house, and it'll encourage them to connect with other kids who are reading and learning. Check with your local library to see what they're planning over the next few months.
Make a Flash Card Challenge
Okay, I'll admit it: You'll be hard pressed to convince any kid that math flash cards are fun, but the benefits of practicing math skills over the break are undeniable. Try to turn it into a challenge or even make it a game. How many flash cards can you complete in a minute? How many cards can you answer correctly in a row? Sure, it won't be their favorite summer activity, but even a few minutes every day can refresh their skills.
Host a Science Experiment Day
Now, you don't have to go and build a volcano that could win an award at a science fair or anything. In fact, science experiments can be relatively simple (and easy to clean up). Pinterest is bursting at the seams with ideas for kids of all ages, all of which will have your kids embracing learning without even realizing it.
Take Educational "Field Trips"
Even though a trip to the zoo is actually fun for everyone, it can double as a perfect learning opportunity. Have your kids research the different animals and come up with a list of facts about their favorites. Stay and listen to the zoo keeper talks and read the informational plaques. Museums, aquariums, parks, and plenty of other places can serve as informal classrooms while keeping your kids occupied and active.
What are your tips and tricks for keeping education present throughout your children's summers? Comment with ideas below!