Tips to Keep Kids Learning Over the Summer

summer learningIn your child’s mind, summer is all about having fun and getting a break from schoolwork. It is a time to relax, go on vacation with the family and enjoy warm weather activities instead of sitting in a classroom. But, successful parents know summer can – and should – be used to increase your child’s physical and intellectual skills as well. As parents who strive to raise our children to be successful young adults, we should see summer for the opportunity it presents us – the opportunity of time to use in a way that will benefit our children through learning by doing. Here are some tips on how to best use the summer for its beneficial aspects:

Send your child to a summer camp that teaches new skills. Even if they are skills that your child will never use again, learning something new strengthens the brain. It makes us smarter in more ways than one. Plus, you never know what your child is going or not going to use again in their lives. Even cooking a dog in a handmade solar cooker can peak their interest in renewable energy. You just never know 😉

Invest some time in basic studies, ten to twenty minutes a day for elementary-age children and 30 minutes to an hour for tweens and teens. This is really a good habit to get into. It isn’t expensive and the benefits are tremendous. You can use math and school websites, free printable worksheets, educational apps, etc. Anything that helps strengthen their basic math, reading and writing skills. And on that note…. Talk to their teacher before school ends and see if there are any areas your child could use an extra boost in before the next school year. Then focus on that, but don’t overdo it. A little extra help from you will go a long way in learning what they need to know.

Check out what your local library is offering for reading programs for kids during the summer. Often, libraries will give prizes for kids who take on a reading challenge. Or they may have different activities during the week for kids to attend. Plus, there are always good books to read there.

Give your child a new responsibility. Show your child that they will be going up a grade level and they are growing up by helping them choose a new daily or weekly responsibility to do. For younger children in elementary school, make the responsibility be something that helps one of your household chores, like gathering all of the towels in the house and bringing them to you to be washed or helping by pulling weeds after you mow the lawn. For older children, give them something that they have to do independently, but on a time limit.

Community recreation programs are full of fun learning opportunities for your child. They offer new experiences, many of which cannot be offered by the school district. If your child is interested in school sport, you’ll often find your community rec center teaching kids how to play.

Purchase an activity book and have some of the supplies on hand. This tip went hand-in-hand with the basics studies tip above for my youngest daughter one summer. She had a really hard time with art one elementary school year – more because she had an attitude than because of her abilities. She doesn’t like her artworks so she would argue about having to do it. This floored her teacher, as my daughter is usually easy going. So, she ended up with a bad grade and the attitude still firmly in place when the summer began. After doing all of the projects in the book, she got over the hump of not liking her working and really began to enjoy doing art… it showed in her grades the next year.

Use the summer to teach life skills to kids. How to grocery shop involves more than just going to the store. You have to budget, know what you need to make a certain meal, se4e if you have the ingredients or should they go on your list, etc. Involve your younger kids by having them help with your shopping/going to the bank/paying bills/normal routines and tasks and have older kids try doing it on their own, but having you available for consulting if needed.

Do a long range project over the summer like building a tree house, writing and putting on a play or art show with the neighborhood kids or raising some chicks into chickens and gathering eggs. Hands on projects like these teach kids delayed gratification, something that isn’t easy to learn in this fast-paced world. Creating these types of life experiences over the summer will keep your children and teens’ brains thinking and their motivation high. It’s a great way to help foster a love of learning.

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