No more school, no more books…you probably know the rest of this saying! Growing up in the 70’s, we didn’t think about the “summer slide” or summer learning loss. Life was different. As an eight year old, waking up, I would run to my window to see who was already playing outside. I inhaled my Apple Jacks, hopped on my bike, returned for lunch, dinner, and then again when the street lights came on. Life was carefree.
Fast forward 35 years and my children’s childhoods are different than mine. While they do have some of those carefree times, our life is more structured. Finding a balance is essential. As an experienced elementary teacher, I am often asked for ideas of summer learning activities. Here are a few tried and true ideas to keep learning fun during this relaxed, sunny season.
- Read While this might seem obvious, it doesn’t always happen as often as we intend it to. Making weekly visits to the library and participating in library programs with a friend can make reading exciting for children. Consider forming a book club with your children’s friends to encourage them to share and discuss common titles. Read with your child. This is a great opportunity for you to share some quality time together. It also gives your child a chance to be exposed to new vocabulary, as well as to hear the expression in your voice. Also, don’t forget that we are our children’s role models. If they see you take time to enjoy a good book, chances are they will too!
- Create a Summer Scrapbook It seems as though many children have devices of one sort or another. Invite your child to use this to take pictures of your summer activities. If needed, just use a simple disposable camera. Print out the pictures each week and have your child journal captions or the story of each picture. Assemble each week to create a scrapbook of your family’s summer adventures. If writing is purposeful and meaningful, your child will want to do it.
- Keep a journal Reflecting on our lives is something that we do on a daily basis. Have your child make and decorate a journal. Let it be theirs and have them decorate it to reflect their unique personality. Encourage him/her to take a little time each day to reflect. What was something good about your day? What would you like to remember about today? How do you feel today? Why?
- Cook and Bake Together If you can read, you can cook and bake. By following a recipe, your child is reading, following directions, and using math while measuring (Fractions!). Of course, be there to ensure kitchen safety, while creating creative kitchen memories!
- Send Postcards to Friends or Relatives Again, purposeful writing. This is a great opportunity to practice the format of a friendly letter…use a greeting, a body of a letter, and a closing. Show him/her how address a postcard. Be sure that friends and relatives reciprocate by sending one back. Then, watch your child’s excitement as they get mail in return!
- Have a lemonade sale or tag sale.
I’m getting after real-life math here. Set prices and have your child practice counting back change. Go ahead and weave in time frames about how much time has elapsed during their sale. How much money did he/she make per hour? Add in some creativity…make signs to advertise!
- Play Card Games and Board Games Enjoy a card game or board game. Yahtzee is one of my favorites! Follow directions, use mathematics to keep score, and take turns while making fun-filled memories.
- Enjoy the Sports Section Together While checking out the latest baseball stats, take this opportunity to teach your child a little about the statistics…a batting average is a real life way to learn about decimals. Go ahead and convert it into fractions! When they see that their favorite player is batting .300, they can begin to understand that the player get a hit 3 out of every ten at-bats. So far, my favorite player has 77 hits and 18 of those are home runs. What fraction and percentage of his hits are home runs? (Go Sox!)
- Tap into their Curiosity Summer is a time of inquiry. What is your child curious about? Tap into those natural curiosities, letting your child take the lead!
- Websites Children these days are so tech savvy. Of course, we want to monitor their screen-time and be mindful of internet safety while having them engage with websites to maintain their skills. Visit your school’s or teacher’s website for suggested websites, specific to their grade level and learning needs. Many school systems provide subscriptions to websites for their students. Also visit my posts on Favorite Free Websites for Elementary Students and Four Favorite Websites for Elementary School Parents.
Most of all, enjoy this precious time with your child. The days are long, but these years are short!
What ideas do you have to limit learning loss during the summer months? I would love to hear your thoughts!
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