It’s May, and within a month, my kids will be out of school for the summer. I can’t wait for slower, more relaxed days – spending the day at the pool instead of the classroom, backyard campfires instead of evenings filled with homework.
As a former teacher, though, I know how much learning is lost over those long summer months. Although I firmly believe that a break from intense academics is good and necessary, I also want my kids to keep their skills sharp and maybe even learn some new things over their summer vacation.
- Read Alouds – This is my favorite way to engage my kids’ hearts and minds. Because children can comprehend at a higher level than they can decode, reading aloud to them can really stretch their understanding. Pick a missionary story, a Newbery winner, or one of your own childhood favorites, and snuggle up for a chapter each day.
- Nature Journal – Buy a special notebook at the beginning of the summer and have your kids record observations about the world around them. Small children can draw pictures of bugs, birds, and flowers. Older kids can add some research and labels. At the end of the summer, your kids will have a greater appreciation for the Creator’s handiwork, and you’ll have a special keepsake of their childhood.
- Field Trips – Nothing gets my kids excited about learning like a field trip! Take some time at the beginning of the summer to intentionally plan some trips in your own town or city. Your kids can brush up on history, science, or the arts just by exploring local parks, museums, and zoos. And your family will create some priceless memories!
- Khan Academy – I try to have my kids start each day in the summer with an hour or so of reading and academics. The Khan Academy website is the perfect answer to academic practice, like math or science. After creating an account, younger kids can practice math skills everyday, and older students can study things like algebra, biology, or art history. The program is interactive, free, and it keeps track of your student’s progress.
- Flashcards – I know from experience how easy it is for kids to completely forget the multiplication facts that we spent hours learning during the school year. It only takes a few minutes a day to review them with a stack of flashcards. And they aren’t just for math facts; emerging readers can learn new sight words, high school students can review foreign language vocabulary, and middle-schoolers can work on science terms.
With a little foresight and planning, I can make sure my kids have a fun, active summer, but guarantee that their brains get some exercise too. Creating some learning opportunities will help us enjoy some productive time together, and hopefully make the transition back to school in the fall a little easier.