Make this summer a time of playful learning and hands-on experiences. I love what I can do with my kids over the summer to encourage learning. Did you know that most kids regress two months in math and one or two months in reading? (Cooper, 1996) Yikes!
We keep a summer schedule that includes learning activities, art, outside time, play, reading, friend time, room time, music, and choice time. (If you have younger kids, go to Summer Learning Activities & Ideas for ages 3 – 6.)
I. Schedule Your Days
Here’s an example schedule. I found a nice looking dry erase board at Hobby Lobby. I will rotate the schedule with inside play, friend time, room time, and music practice. (That’s why I love dry erase — makes changes easy!)
II. Get Organized
If you have more than one child, it’s helpful to organize materials in separate containers. I found these brightly colored picnic baskets at Target last week. Aren’t they are perfect?
III. Gather Your Learning Activities (Option is Essential)
Intentional, Thematic Pretend Play
Pretend play requires much more than imagination. Children, even in elementary, need to pretend play. It builds cognitive flexibility, increases self-control, improves vocabulary, strengthens resiliency, and encourages problem solving. (Among other things.) Sometimes all you need to give your kids is an idea, a few props, and some background information about the topic. Here are lots of pretend play ideas on Imagination Soup, great ideas on Childhood 101, and 25 easy ideas from No Time for Flashcards. My kids LOVE playing Harry Potter. What about yours?
Of course, the best classroom is right outside. Have you seen all the research about how beneficial nature’s green is to our brains? Use nature to explore as much as you can in all areas – math, science, reading, and writing. Playful Learning has ten fantastic book suggestions, my Outside Play and Learn Pinterest board has a gazillion ideas, and Mommy Labs shares 50+ ideas for nature exploration.
I give my kids choices about their learning time since we know that the more a child can direct her learning, the more it “sticks” in her brain. So, I have two special bins just for learning games. Top bin is math; bottom is literacy. Choose any game is a learning activity choice.
Of course summer days are made for reading. Give your kids lots of ways to find good books – trips to the library, the bookstore, yard sales, and remember to let the choose their own books. Help them pick a “just right” book with the five finger test. Talk about how you make your book selections. Read in front of them – they’re watching you and you can show them what a reading life looks like.
RIF’s Monthly Reading Activity Calendars
Start With a Book (24 kid-friendly themes featuring specific ideas for using books and related downloadable activities.)
The folks at Brain Quest contacted me after seeing my last two iPad posts to tell me that they have a free gaming app for grades 1-5, featuring 600 questions on 28 levels for each grade. I haven’t tried it yet but it looks great — and free is good!
P.S. Don’t forget to set screen time limits!
Reading and Writing iPad Apps.
Science and Math iPad Apps.
Tomorrow, watch for summer activity ideas for the 5 and under crowd.
What do you plan to do for your summer learning choices?
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