It is hard to believe that summer will be here before you know it. And with that comes the endless question of how to engage my children in learning during those long summer months. The summer slide is real and as a parent and a former teacher, I have always been aware of how quickly my kids can “check out” from anything academic. However, I have found a few easy ways to help keep them motivated during the summer so they are prepared to start the next school year. Here are a few of my helpful tips:
- Read to your children every day for 20 minutes. It is so easy to let a tablet, television or video game entertain your child during the summer. I have been guilty of this many times, but reading is still a great way to actively engage their minds. I always try to read “the classics” aloud to my kids during the summer. I try to pick books that I loved as a child and usually they have the same appeal. One summer we read “Indian in the Cupboard” by Lynne Reid Banks, and another we read “Island of the Blue Dolphins” by Scott O’Dell. Even my thirteen year old still loves to be read to!
- Sign up for your local library’s Summer Reading Program and encourage them to read on their own. Once again, reading is a great activity. Our local library usually offers contests throughout the summer which encourages us to keep coming back for new books. Not only do I read aloud to my kids, but I also expect that they will read silently almost everyday. Now that they are older, there is a summer reading requirement for our school, however, when they were smaller our local library offered great motivating programs to encourage them to read throughout the summer.
- Math is all around you! Those math facts, which they worked so hard to learn during the school year, can easily slip away during the summer without some practice. It is easy to practice flash cards (which I have done), however, there are some simple and easy ways to help them use math in real ways. Cook with your kids and have them measure ingredients to work on fractions, have a lemonade stand to practice using money, take them grocery shopping–tell them they have $10 dollars to spend on 3 items and see how close they can get to spending it. Our school uses Simple Solutions during the year as enrichment activities so I purchase the corresponding Summer Solutions books which have 30 pages of activities. I offer incentives if they finish all 30 activities by the end of the summer. It only takes a few minutes a day and keeps those math facts fresh in their minds.
- Sign up for a camp or two. There are so many great camp options out there that incorporate learning in fun ways. We have always enjoyed Camp Guyasuta’s STEM Adventure Camp. Not only are the kids outside the whole day doing fun activities, but they also incorporate a STEM activity everyday. This year BTA is hosting our first summer camp experience. It is called “Mystery on Middle Road” and will involve engaging kids in fun ways with STEM activities, crafts, art, and other projects to encourage critical thinking skills. For more information about our summer camp, visit www.btacademy.net.
- If you take a vacation, learn a few new things about the places you are going to visit. This is a great way to learn about history, geography, weather, and much more. Recently my family visited Charleston, South Carolina, and although our family had visited the beaches surrounding the area for years, we had never done some of the historical tours available. This time we signed up for a boat trip to see Fort Sumter. It was fun to explore a place that had been like a second home to us and have my children see first hand how the Civil War started, which is something all of them have studied in school.
Summer is long and kids tend to be unmotivated the minute you mention “school” or “learning “. It is important to keep them engaged so they come back to school in the fall prepared to start a new school year. If you are interested in signing up for BTA’s summer camp experience, click here. Need more ideas? Talk to teachers, friends, family and neighbors! They can be a great resource and provide recommendations based on their own experiences.
Mrs. Meredith Kandravy, Director of Admissions and Marketing at Blessed Trinity Academy