Q: With school coming to a close next month, I am afraid the wonderful lessons and learning that took place will be lost on summer fun. How can I keep the learning going when school is not in session?
A: This is an easier fix than most parents realize – it just takes some creativity and a different approach to learning! Summer is a time to reboot, especially for children. Hard at work all year, they deserve a chance to enjoy the nice weather and have a less structured routine. Instead of shuffling children to after school activities or to the table to do homework, parents can now utilize this time to engage in a more relaxed learning environment.
An important first step is to contact your child’s teacher prior to the end of school. Many teachers will send home suggestions of what to do over the summer as well as summer reading lists, but if they do not, ask them for some guidance. Do not be afraid to speak up! They may also give you some insight into what is to come the next year in school, which can guide summer learning.
Along with teacher suggestions, a summer book club is the perfect way to combine social and educational enjoyment. Together with other neighborhood parents, create a kids’ book club. Gather some selections for the children choose from and create a timeline and rules for the club that include the hosts of the week and question and answer guidelines. Rotate your meeting places, possibly holding meetings outside on a warm summer night, at the beach on a weekend or as part of a picnic in the park. If only we could always meet in the sand to discuss our favorite selections!
Another great activity is a summer scavenger hunt. This is a fun way to engage younger children who may not be ready for a book club. Dedicate each week to a certain theme, whether it focuses on the beach, summer foods or a certain color. Have them search for and compile a list of items in the week’s category or assign certain items through pictures if children are younger.
Along with the items, add an educational twist. If your theme of the week is “red”, have children collect anything and everything red and have them draw their own version of each item. If they are beginning writers, have them write the word as best as they can next to the picture, and if they are more advanced writers, a sentence including the item can work well. This is the perfect answer to how to incorporate letter recognition, spelling and writing into summertime.
Summer is synonymous with games and exploring. Incorporate challenges and experiments that allow children to practice concepts in a more abstract-yet-engaging manner. One of my favorite sites is www.nrich.maths.org. It breaks down learning by area of interest, allowing concepts such as time, money, addition and subtraction to be explored through age appropriate interactive games and activities. Simple card games such as War and more advanced card games provide hours of entertainment while practicing mathematical concepts as well.
Lastly, experiments are a great way to pass the time over the summer. Websites such as www.pbskids.org/designsquad provide multiple options for science and engineering experiments that are simple and packed with learning opportunities – not to mention, extremely entertaining. Whether children are moving helium balloons through an obstacle course or building a tower to support a tennis ball, all involved will love these easy to follow challenges. It makes for quality family time and fun wrapped into one!
No matter what your summer schedule entails, using these suggestions can ensure that learning does not end, but simply continues throughout the upcoming summer vacation. Please feel free to contact me for further ideas or questions about suggestions given.
Happy almost summer!
***If you have an educational question related to this topic or any other educational area, just ASK AMANDA! You can contact her at [email protected] or respond below in the comments section below.
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Amanda Lehrman, founder of TheMommaFiles, is a trained teacher and curriculum consultant. She attended Fordham University and received an M.S.T in Elementary Education and has worked with the Accelerated Literacy Learning program as well as Teachers College Reading and Writing projects, Kaplan K-12 and Catapult Learning. Amanda currently teaches 3rd through 5th grade students in a Gifted & Talented program in Edison, NJ.
The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blog contributor’s. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. Writers may have conflicts of interest, and their opinions are their own.