No parent wants their kid to lose academic ground over the summer, but no kid wants to spend their summer sitting and doing worksheets. Here are 5 fun ways to keep kids learning, and avoid “summer slide” without them even noticing!
1. Go outside. Study after study has shown that children learn from unstructured play time and that being outside helps their brain development. Take a walk, pointing out plants and animals along the way. Go for a swim, and have a cannonball competition to promote sportsmanship and coordination. Play soccer or do yoga in the park, to encourage mindfulness and spatial awareness.
2. Encourage sensory play. Mixing up a batch of alien slime is a fun science activity, as kids help measure and stir. Then poking and stretching the slime can help with dexterity and problem solving – can they keep the slime from falling off the table?!
3. Read read read. We go to the library at least once a week in the summer, sometimes twice. I let my kids check out as many books as they want to, because the more books lying around our house, the more likely they are to pick one up and read it. We always read before bed, and we also like to stretch blankets across our dining room chairs, and sit and read in our “book tent”.
4. Find STEM toys to play with. There are tons and tons of STEM toys available these days to encourage kids to use math and science skills. But even good old-fashioned building blocks and Legos can provide a ton of engineering and strategic skills! Try having your kids race to see who can build a tower faster; or see if they can build a tower as tall as you are.
5. Cook with your kids. This morning my girls helped can strawberry jam with me. They got a lesson in hand-eye coordination as they helped hull the strawberries, in math as they counted the cups of sugar and strawberries, in science as they watched me boil the jars and we talked about what sanitizing means. Then we had fun listening for the “pops” that let us know each jar properly sealed as it cooled. Having your kids in the kitchen with you is definitely messy sometimes; but it’s a great way for them to learn!