Summer School, without the School
Ahhh Summer. The time where we, as parents, look forward to hitting the pause button on carpools, packing lunches, and homework that never seems to end. But with the joys of long days of summer, how do you infuse some education so your little ones don't lose the progress they made during the school year?
According to research, children lose up to 2.6 months of academic learning during the summer months and lose proficiency specifically in math and science. To combat this loss, and avoid the summer doldrums I put together a list of over 50 ideas to keep your children learning—and I promise they aren't difficult!
At MyMommyStyle.com we do a Summer Learning Series every year where we compile ideas and activities to keep your children from driving you crazy, because let's be honest, when they're bored we often pay for it as parents! So without further ado, here’s your go-to list to keep your kids sane and smart all summer long:
Hit the books
Visiting your local library is an awesome, free way to encourage learning through the summer as they will often offer activities, interactive reading times, and even educational hands-on events. One of my favorites we attended last year was an evening devoted to rocks, and the library even had rocks for all of the kids to take home for their own personal collections.
Write a Summer Bucket List
This is one of my favorite things to do with my kids each summer. We have a special night that we all sit around and take turns sharing what we hope to be able to do that summer. We write all of the ideas down and try our best to make them happen. There is a "MUST" do part of the list that we each contribute to, a "WOULD LIKE TO" do part of the list, and an "EXTRA SPECIAL" part as well.
We have found that if we write it down it is much easier to keep track of the plans we have and scheduling out the things that can only be done at certain times in the summer. This will help your children see that even goals for FUN things are more attainable when written and planned out.
Volunteer at a local Animal Shelter
If you are pet lovers, why not give pack and volunteer at the animal shelter. This would be an awesome way for your children to give their love and service in a way that makes a difference. It would also be a good time to talk about the responsibility of owning a pet if you have one or are thinking about getting one.
Explore different careers
If you have children who are older and they have interests in different types of jobs, the summer is a great time to make an appointment with someone and shadow them for a day in the life.
Go on a bug hunt
Bugs are fascinating to kids in all of their varieties! Why not embrace it and go for a nature exploration? You can also use this free printable to make the hunt even easier. If you have older kids, you could even gather some bugs to observe later and look up on the internet.
Play Tourist in Your Hometown
Spend some time showing your kids around your city, playing tourist, and appreciating those things you might otherwise take for granted living where you do.
A fun way to teach your children about nature, following directions, and exploration is through Geocaching! Not sure where to start? This website will give you all of the basics of what you need to know to have a successful outing. It is like treasure hunting brought to life.
Plant a Garden
Teaching children how to sow, plant, and watch that little seed grow can be such a rewarding (and delicious) experience. If you are limited in space you could try an herbal garden in your kitchen and start small with the help from this book.
Teach Kids to Sew
I love this approach of how to Teach Kids to Sew from the seasoned homemaker. A small project could be just the thing you need on a lazy summer afternoon. Start small and pick out something that you know your child would have specific interest in.
An inexpensive way to shop for fabric is to go to a second hand store or even use big pieces of clothing and create something new.
Neighborhood Progressive Dinner
Organize a progressive dinner in your neighborhood, where participating families go from one home to another as they eat each part of dinner. This would be particularly fun for older children who could help with the preparation and serving of the food. Who says a BBQ has to take place in only one backyard? Planning and organizing an event like this teaches time management, organization, and responsibility in such a fun way.
Play with your food
Summer is a great time to teach your children about the benefits of fruits and vegetables—all while making it a fun learning experience. There are hundreds of snacks you can create together and talk about shapes, measurements, and nutrients is a way that brings science and math into your every day.
Get expressive through art
Art in any form is filled with creativity and a chance for your child to really explore. Take advantage of the lovely weather and paint outside with your feet, or use shaving cream to create a one-of-a-kind pie.
Kids often learn the best when they are having silly, messy fun.
There are so many fun science experiments that you can do with your kids that are easy to put together, and make an incredible impact. One of my favorites is water spheres that can help teach your kids about light refraction, volume, and density. You can buy them here and they are so much fun to play with. Just make sure that you are observing your children while playing with them as they are NOT to be eaten!
Make your own crayons
This is a fun activity that you can do in a couple of hours. Use candy molds to create unique crayons or candies and talk about color, how colors are made, and what makes them complimentary. You could even wrap up your new creations and give them to friends or local daycares or camps who are always in need.
While you may not be going to Disneyland, find a place to get out of your house even if it’s a staycation in your own back yard. I have so many fond memories of camping with my family and having time to play cards and chase squirrels around in the trees. Unplugging is so nurturing to us all and gives us the opportunity to slow down and learn from nature first hand.
Get crafty with shapes
Find simple things from around your house to create something new. One of my favorite things I like to do is to tell my kids to use a few recycled projects and come up with something new and reusable. If motivation is required I will include "awards" and a trip to get a snow cone. Make creating fun!
This is a fun bucket list just devoted to reading. This is geared more towards younger children, but you could easily adapt this idea for your older kids as well.
If you are looking for something a little more traditional in structure and learning you could use a wonderful resource called Carson-Dellosa's Summer Bridge learning program that allows you to have online program support as well as workbooks and activities.
Another wonderful resource is Think Earth, a non-profit resource for teachers and parents! Think Earth, is an award winning green curriculum for kids grades K-2, a free online resource of lesson plans and activities that you can use to teach your children this summer. Each lesson provides a list of what your child will be learning, vocabulary, list of items you will need, stories, and songs. It makes the learning process so easy and manageable.
More than anything, keep in mind that your children learn best when using their hands and keeping their mind active! I hope these suggestions have given you some ideas of ways that will work for your family!
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About the author:
Camille Walker is the creator of Mymommystyle.com. Camille is a professional blogger, wife, and mother of 3 with one on the way. She is a valedictorian of Utah State University having graduated in Family and Consumer Sciences Education. She loves to play with her family, spend time outdoors, read when she has a minute, and share her adventures and tips on MyMommyStyle.com that she writes with her cousin.