Tips for Summer Learning with Your Children

learn-gymnasticsFor many parents, summer brings both excitement & trepidation: Excitement about more free time with your family, vacation, and less-scheduled days; but also some worries about the ‘summer slide’ and how to provide your children with opportunities for learning. I am definitely in favor of some lazy summer days at the pool or beach – but I also think that summer with young children provides opportunities for fun AND learning to go hand-in-hand.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Explore your own backyard
    Have you ever looked at your own yard as a creature habitat? If not, put up a bird feeder or bird bath, set up a hummingbird feeder, plant some flowers to attract butterflies, or just do some digging with your child. Encourage them to draw or record their discoveries. You can even challenge them to find all the different kinds of leaves in your yard. Use these discoveries to do a little research on local animals and insects at the library or online.
  • Use the library as an activity center
    We are lucky to have wonderful libraries at our fingertips: tons of books for summer reading, access to reduced-rate museum passes, and free summer activity sessions. Don’t forget that the library can also be a great resource for answering children’s questions. Encourage your child to come up with some things they wonder about and head to the library: Why did the dinosaurs become extinct? How do airplanes fly? Why doesn’t it hurt when they cut my hair? A question a week can encourage a lot of reading and thinking!
  • Keep in touch with school friends
    Your children may meet different friends and playmates this summer at the pool or pond, but why not have them write a postcard, note, or an email to some of their former classmates – or even someone they will be in class with in the fall? This can be a good way to get even a reluctant writer in the mood for writing.
  • Take it outside
    You might be hesitant to do messy paint, playdough, or science activities in the house. That’s why summer is the perfect time to do the messy stuff outdoors. Hang some paper on a fence and let them paint; pull out that clay; or try out some fun science activities with household items. These sites offer some great activities to try:

  • Cook with your kids
    Summer is a great time to include your children in the cooking. Check out the library for fun children’s cookbooks (you can find “Around the World” cookbooks and even some based on favorite books), and let your children choose a recipe. Reading recipes, measuring ingredients, combining different materials—it can be the most delicious form of learning there is.
  • Keep reading
    Make sure to still include some time for reading all summer. Make it fun by setting up a tent or blanket fort with a flashlight. Or create a special quiet cubby in a child’s room. Make reading time part of your family’s summer routine.

Have fun this summer – It will be gone before you know it!