Trying to get kids to focus on schoolwork during summer break is difficult because, as Alice Cooper says, “School’s out for summer!” This means, at least in the minds of kids, that books, learning and homework will not be part of the dog days of summer.
Although homework need not be part of a summer’s day, learning definitely should be; kids who neglect reading, math and other educational pursuits are at risk of the summer slide—the phenomenon of losing ground on learning skills and achievements, which will put students at a disadvantage for the upcoming school year.
Just because learning should continue during the summer doesn’t mean it has to be just like school. Summer is the perfect time to get outside, explore new places and go on adventures—the perfect settings for kids to learn.
Make time for reading
Sometimes the best adventures are the ones commandeered by the imagination, and nothing captivates imagination like a good book. Summer mornings are the perfect time to head to an air-conditioned library to stock up on graphic novels, picture books, fiction and nonfiction stories, and summer nights are the best time to crack those spines open. Since alarm clocks are turned off for the summer, or at least set to go off a smidge later in the morning, staying up to read at night is a splendid way to keep learning on track.
According to Barbara Dianis, author of “Don’t Count Me Out! A Guide to Better Grades & Test Scores PreK-12” and writer at edutopia.org, just 15-30 minutes of reading per day is sufficient; “during the summer, students have more time to read for enjoyment, which also offers a great opportunity to preserve and strengthen their reading skills.”
Let nature be the teacher
The experts at Care.com are big fans of “unstructured outdoor play in the summertime.” By exploring nature, creating fairy gardens, digging in the dirt and perhaps even helping mom plant and weed the garden, kids will exercise their muscles and imaginations while expanding their appreciation of the outside world.
Kids can learn about the natural world and help out some feathery friends by building a bird feeder, suggest the experts at GreatSchools.org, who claim projects like this will “teach children to read and follow directions, and offer the added benefit of creating a finished product.”
Bad weather equals indoor learning
Sadly, summer isn’t always sunny, and on those rainy or bad weather days, the experts at Care.com advise kids to make their time indoors count toward learning by playing games—preferably educational board games—and working on puzzles. Of course, reading, drawing, coloring and writing are also creative outlets for a rainy day.
Destination learning activities
Not having to go to school frees up a lot of hours during the day, and a smart way to fill those hours is with a visit to the zoo, nature reserve or park. To keep attentions focused, the experts at GreatSchools.org suggest turning a trip to a museum into a treasure hunt. They also encourage kids to then write about their adventures and the places they’ve seen or create a keepsake scrapbook. A mini road trip is a great way to expose kids to new experiences and places.
Learning opportunities and summer fun can go together just as well as peanut butter and jelly, and by the time school starts, kids will be ready for another successful year of learning.
This article is presented by Perkins Motors in Colorado Springs, Colorado.