There is a lot of popular press about the importance of kids reading throughout the summer in order to continue to improve their literacy skills. There is a also LOT of evidence supporting the importance of these statements. Kids really do need to maintain their literacy skills and continue to develop them during the summer and often times children who do not read during the summer come back to school in the fall having lost the skills they had worked on the previous year. But it’s not just literacy skills that have the potential to decline during the summer. Having 2 months off school (or more) has an impact on all subjects and when schools are out parents do need to take steps to make sure their children are still learning outside of the classroom.
The good news is there are a whole bunch of ways to work with your children on math, science, geography, current events, and other subjects that they are not formally studying during the summer. Here are just a few ideas, but get creative, opportunities for fun learning are all around you during the summer!
Check out Sesame Street’s Math is Everywhere site. The site provides math related videos including my favorites with John John counting with Henry, videos of Sesame Street clips related to shapes, patterns, addition & subtraction, and printable activities that you can do with your child. Of course my favorite part is the Parent’s Guide that provides great tips, games, and activities to do with your child at home that are math related!
For slightly older kids, Cyberchase is a great math TV show and their website has all sorts of information for parents, games and activities for kids, and list of resources for how to use math at home in everyday ways. The Cyberchase website also offers suggestions for science tips and resources to help children pick out science projects. Cybercase also offers the Summer Challenge which combines tv episodes of Cyberchase with related activities.
Figure This! is another fun website for families. Figure This! provides families with math challenges and has a Family Corner section that provides parents with a variety of resources and connections between math and literacy
If your child enjoys playing games on your smartphone of table computer, MotionMath is one of my favorite apps out there! MotionMath provides users with the opportunity to connect physical movement (moving the device around) with learning math (fractions, etc). It is a very creative and fun way to practice math skills!
There are a lot of great resources available on the Internet, either to do online or to help give you ideas of ways to incorporate fun learning activities into your summer days. Here are a list of other non-electronic idea to keep your kids excited about learning all summer long:
- Geography: Have a trip planned? Pull out a map (or print one) and have your child highlight the route he thinks you should take to get there (if you are driving this can be roads, if you are flying have them draw how the plane should go). Ask questions about what stats and cities you will pass through, will you see any rivers, lakes, mountains? What direction will you be traveling to get there? What about to get home? This activity can be used for even short trips to the pool or to the park.
- Science: The great thing about summer is it’s nice and you can be outside with your kids. Take this opportunity to get a book out from the library about the different plants, trees, or bugs that are in your area in the summer. Have your children try to catch ladybugs, butterflies, or worms and learn about how these animals live. What foods do they eat? Where are they on the food chain? Do they come out during the day or at night? Have them collect different leaves or flowers that they see growing when you are at the park. Look up what types of trees the leaves came from and have your children draw pictures of the trees or leaves, etc. Another great science topic in the summer is fruits and vegetables. Why are strawberries so delicious in the summer and apples in the fall? All these are great science related questions for young children
- Math: Math is around us constantly! Have your child add up the cost of her favorite groceries at the supermarket, count how many mosquito bites you get, how many steps it is to the pool. Remember that math is more than just numbers. Talk about the shapes you see in the summer- circle wheels on your bike, triangle seats, cylinder handlebars. In the car, play -spy with shapes, first everyone has to find something that is a square and take turns guessing until you figure out each person’s item. At the beach or at the park, do math problems in the sand and have your child use a stick to fill in the correct number.
- Art & Music: Take advantage of the warm weather and the easy clean up, let your children do art projects outside: chalk is always fun in the summer, but finger painting can be awesome outside too, let your child add in some of his natural world into his art with leaves, dirt, grass, etc. Summer is also a time where many communities have free music festivals. Take your children to hear some live music, encourage them to dance, and make their own songs.
- Physical Education/Movement: With very young children learning to move and control their movements is a very important part of development, but even for older children physical exercise is extremely important and lots of fun. Summer can get hot, but take advantage of local pools for swimming; get out early in the morning and take a bike ride with your kids or just a walk, the parks a great place to run and play but with more daylight in the summer get creative and try out new parks- your kids will love the new climbing structures and challenges and novel parks!