Summer is here! But just because school’s out doesn’t mean that learning has to stop. Did you know that teachers spend, on average, 4-8 weeks every fall reviewing and re-teaching material that students forgot over vacation? Some students lose the equivalent of 1-2 months of reading and math skills during summer, and these effects can be cumulative. Basically, every summer a child spends not learning can impact their academic performance later on.

Don’t Take A Vacation From Education

What’s a concerned parent to do? Not everyone can afford to send their kids to summer camp or special summertime education programs, but you don’t have to. There are all kinds of fun activities you can do with the kiddos to reinforce the skills they learned during the school year. In addition, if your child’s teacher noted any skills your child was weak in, the summer break is a great time to bring them up to speed. Come fall, your little learner could be caught up with the rest of his/her class.

Don’t let summer be an educational wasteland of video games and television. Show your kids that learning can happen anywhere, not just in school. With some resources and a little planning – you can be sure your kids enjoy summertime experiences that are both enriching and fun.  We can help!

Summer Learning Resources

We warned against video games, but technology can provide a learning boost. Kids loving playing on iPads and iPhones, so why not make screen time count by engaging them with educational apps for kids? There are games that teach math skills, phonics, science, and more. Kids think it’s fun and you have the satisfaction of knowing they’re learning…it’s a win-win. Check out our picks for the best guilt-free apps for kids

There are also some great online resources available to parents to help plan learning activities. Education World has a whole list of summer activities you can do with your child. In addition, they offer age-appropriate math lessons from kindergarten through 8th grade.

If reading is one of the areas you want to focus on this summer, getting your child into a summer reading program might be just the ticket. It could give them the encouragement they need to keep going, especially if they can score some discounts or freebies!  

The Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Program gives kids a free book when they read 8 books over the summer. Kids bring their completed reading journal to a Barnes and Noble bookstore to choose their free book from the program list. Get your kids started by letting them pick out new books that catch their eye. If you’re looking to save some money, you can get discounts and cash back offers for Barnes & Noble at CashMamas.

Also, PBS member stations across the country will be bringing PBS KIDS content to life in local communities to engage children ages 2-8 and their families in learning and fun. Member stations will partner with local organizations, including libraries, schools, museums, and more, to host hundreds of events this summer. Check with PBS for more information on free summer learning programs from PBS KIDS.

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Summer Learning Activities

Summer is a great time to show kids that learning can happen anytime, anywhere. Long, unstructured days give kids a chance to try out new hobbies and interests that may not fit into a traditional classroom. Think about what skill(s) you want to work on, and plan an activity around it. Kids will be so engaged in the process, they won’t even realize that learning is taking place, (but we know better). Here’s a few ideas to get you started.

Gross Motor Skills:

Does your little one need some help developing their gross motor skills (i.e. muscle development and movement)? Try old favorites like Hot Lava (where the floor is “hot” and you have to jump on pillows, etc. to avoid it). Other classics include impromptu dance parties, hop scotch, or setting up a low balance beam in the backyard. And don’t count out a good old fashioned wagon or pull toy that your child can walk around with. Wagons can keep toddlers moving outside and entertained for hours.

Phonics:

You can make or buy flashcards with letter groupings that help kids sound out simple words. You can also try an educational toy that encourages alphabet learning, like the LeapFrog AlphaPup. Alphabet magnets are also a classic and fun way to encourage phonics learning. Spell out names and simple words with your kids on your fridge.

Reading:

The best way to encourage kids to read more is to make sure they are surrounded by plenty of fun children’s books. Make a dedicated bookshelf for your child and let them get involved in the selection process. Take your kids to the library, and look for local storytelling programs in your community. Read with your child and be engaging! Make up different voices for different characters. Ask questions to encourage critical thinking.

Writing:

Summer vacation is a great time to encourage writing! Buy a bunch of postcards and have your kids write fun details of your trip to family and friends. Have older kids keep journals or make a scrapbook with descriptions of any places you visit. Or if your kids are really interested in a particular subject, (dance, baseball, filmmaking, etc.) have them research the topic and write a story or article about it. You can reward them afterwards by taking a family trip to a show, game, or movie so they can watch their subject in action. How fun is that?

STEM:

There are so many fun projects kids can do to build STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) skills over the summer, the possibilities are endless. Get a book of hands-on projects like STEAM Kids 50+ Projects and start building together. You can also introduce kids to coding basics with Coding Games In Scratch. This straightforward visual guide uses fun graphics and easy-to-follow instructions to show young learners how to build their own computer projects using a popular free programming language.

Your kids may be out of school, but with these summer learning resources and activities they won’t lose any academic skills. Come fall they’ll be ahead of the game. Your child will be ready to hit the ground running in their new classroom!

Do you have any fun summer learning activities you do with the kids? Share them in our Education Community.