As a parent of a young toddler, I am all about having summer fun with my son! But did you know that too much fun and no day to day academics could lead to summer learning loss? Yes, it’s true.
When the kids return to school this Fall, many of them will begin the school year with achievement levels that are lower than they were at the beginning of their summer break. This is known as summer learning loss, and it is especially common in younger children.
Even if you enrolled your kids for a school-based summer program or day camp, this can still be ineffective at maintaining their academics. Why? Because most summer programs are not meant to be 100% educational or structured. I mean, it is summer time after all! Also, most staff hired to run these programs don’t necessarily qualify as “teachers” unless you specifically hire a tutor for a specific field of study. And that can get expensive very quickly!
The summer learning struggle is real, but there are a few easy ways you can prevent summer learning loss and still enjoy your summer with your little ones!
Take advantage of summer road trips
It’s safe to say most families will be doing some traveling this summer, and if you happen to be taking a long road trip is the perfect opportunity to squeeze in some learning lessons! It will also keep your car ride from becoming a bore. There are a lot of games you can play for kids of all ages while in the car. If you have younger kids, asking them to point out common objects or shapes. See if they can sound them out and tell you what letter they think it starts with. If your child is already reading bigger words, billboards are a great tool to practice word recognition.
For older kids, you can get even more creative and ask them to guess how many times you will have to stop for gas. If they are able to do mathematics, get more detailed and see if they can calculate how many miles it will take to get to your destination based on the speed limit and the amount of gas your car holds.
Bring in some new learning books
Summer reading isn’t just for grown-ups, a lot of kids can benefit from a dedicated reading time too. To make reading time more fun, consider purchasing a few books based on topics that your kids don’t get to cover in school. Books about being mindful, types of construction trucks, poetry books are all great choices. Language learning books are also a great way to keep your younger kids engaged.
If you have older kids, take them book shopping and see what topics they are interested in exploring. Or maybe you can find books that support whatever hobbies they love. There also some really great non-fiction books that can still bring in some educational value! The key to this summer learning loss activity is to create a time for them to actually read. Personally, I have found that right before bedtime is best!
Go to Farmer’s Markets
Many cities in the US have farmer’s markets, and usually, even more fresh food shopping options pop up in the summertime. There are so many different types of fruits and vegetables at the farmer’s market, and your child will benefit from learning the names of them all. You will also teach them healthy eating habits and why buying local is important.
Toddler-aged kids can practice their colors as you pick out your produce. They can also practice their numbers by counting the pieces of fruits or vegetables you choose. Big kids can enjoy a fun guessing game and by estimating the weight. They can also get a quick math lesson by adding up your total for you based on what you picked out. This can be a really fun game if you have more than one child with you!
Hit the beach
The beach offers a ton of potential summer learning lessons - plus you get to be outside enjoying the ocean! The great thing about the beach is that you really don’t have to plan much, you can simply have your child observe their surroundings. Ask them to name the different sea creatures, animals, and birds they see at the beach. They can also point out common beach activities they see happening - volleyball, jet skiing, parasailing, flying kites etc. If you build sandcastles, teach them about the sand and what helps hold it together. If you collect seashells, turn it into a counting lesson.
As you can see, there is plenty of ways to avoid summer learning loss and keep your child’s brain stimulated this summer without being a total drag. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time of resources or even be structured. You can turn almost any summer fun activity into a fast and on the fly learning experience, you just have to get creative!
Happy summer learning parents!
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