summerDitch the Workbooks…Add Some Fun!!

According  the National Literacy Association, children can fall 2.6 months behind in reading when they do not read over the summer. Memory of other subjects is also compromised if the information is not put to use.

Workbooks have long been a “go to” for parents during Summer to help give their kids the boost for the next grade before going back to school. But if you ask any kid they will say…”BORING!” One of the best ways to incorporate ongoing learning during summer is to make it fun and natural. Sounds easy right? Not so much. Making learning fun requires a bit of planning and thinking outside the box.

Here are 5 things that may help make learning fun this Summer:

1. Review your DAILY activities. There are elements of all of our activities that we do everyday that involve, reading, math, and science. Take a closer look at the activities you do on a daily basis or, any of the fun activities that you have planned and identify how these things are involved. Cooking is a perfect example of this – Teach your child how to make a family recipe. This regular activity involves reading (reading the recipe), math (calculating the measurements), and science (how ingredients interact with each other).

2. Make reading summer books come alive.  Research shows that just by picking 6 books over the summer it can prevent regression in a struggling reader. So after picking the 6 books use them in creative ways besides just reading.

Consider these ideas to add dimensions to the books:

•How about creating an alternate ending to the story?

•Write a script of the story and create a play about it with costumes and music.

•Draw the story using illustrations from drawing and magazine pictures.

•Tell the story using ONLY pantomime or gestures.

3. Plan some science experiments. Being surprised and making a mess….two things kids love! And science experiments usually involve both of these things. As parents we often want to avoid the latter of these two but by allowing kids to play and experiment with science activities, we engage their brains and inquisitive natures. In addition, one of the best ways for children to encode and retain information is through activities that involve hands-on learning.  In order to find some fun, developmentally appropriate science activities, all you have to do is to do an internet search or go to Pinterest for some fun ideas!

4. Research your summer vacation and create a travel scavenger hunt.  Usually, family trips involve a destination that either is new or has the opportunity to seek out new information. Even if your family takes an annual trip to a destination, there are new aspects that may not have been explored before.

Here are some recommendations for kids to do before you go:

•Check out a few books on the destination and read them together.

•Write a wish list of activities you want to do after learning about the destination

•Map the destination and (for older kids) use the map to determine how far the destination is from your home and how long it might take to get there by different forms of transportation (airplane versus train or car)

•If traveling by car, encourage kids to research points of interest that you might want to stop and see along the way.

•Once this list is developed, it is easy to turn this into a scavenger hunt by asking them to find specific things along your travels. Keep a journal of what is found. You can even create things to find that can be used at your final destination.

5. Allow some technology. I am the first person to encourage parents to limit and monitor the use of technology with kids. However, summertime gives a little wiggle room since most kids are not as busy and have more time to balance technology with outdoor play. I am a big believer about having outside play (C’mon, we live so close to the beach!) during a summer. That being said, technology can be used sparingly, to encourage learning. This does not mean video games for 4 hours. Instead, there are educational apps and websites that can be used to supplement learning. Previewing any technology kids use is imperative and will help you understand what components are being taught and reinforced while your child is using it. Don’t be afraid to let your kids get on the computer or IPad, just monitor them while they are doing it.

Summer is traditionally a time for kids to relax and have fun. Taking a break from school to enjoy the summer weather and activities with friends and family. There is no reason to take this away from kids. Instead, we just need to be creative about how to include learning in the activities we do together!