Your Guide to Activities That Promote Summer Learning

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

School is no longer in session for some, meaning your child has the next two to three months for endless playtime. And, while we normally think of summer vacation as a time for kids to unwind from a rigorous academic year, it doesn’t mean you should put the brakes on your kid’s education.

Summer learning loss is all too real, and it happens across socioeconomic status in some subjects. In fact, research has shown that most children lose about two months of grade-level equivalency in math each summer. In reading, low-income children lose more than two months in achievement, while middle-income kids slightly increased their abilities. All of the summer learning losses will compound over time, too, if it’s not addressed, and the statistics don’t speak well for that scenario.

So, what can you do? Some communities have summer learning programs through school districts; science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) camps at local colleges and universities; and other initiatives within your area. (A quick and simple search for “summer learning programs near me” will likely turn up a lot of options.) Know that some, but not all, of these options may charge you.

If you can’t send your child to one of these programs, there are other summer learning activities that you can do right in the comfort of your own home — some requiring your Kinetic Internet. Check out some of them below:

1. Read every day.

There are numerous benefits of reading. Infants, for example, can look at the pictures, point to them and hear your voice. If you point to the photos as you’re reading, infants can start to associate your words with the objects. For young children, reading can help expand vocabulary, teach them about the world and even develop emotional skills like empathy.

And, reading doesn’t have to be costly. You don’t need to go out and buy a whole bunch of books. You can easily check them out at your local library — even if you’ve got an e-reader. All you’ll need with your e-reader is an Internet connection.

For children who are a little older, engage with them about the books they are reading. Talk to them about the book, set reading goals or even start a book club with your family or your child’s friends. Most libraries these days also have a summer reading challenge, in which children write down all the books they’ve read during a certain period and can get certain rewards for the amount they’ve consumed.

2. Include math lessons in errands or even on trips.

Chores aren’t any fun to begin with, so what better way to bring a little more life into them than incorporating lessons. For example, doing laundry can teach a child to sort by colors or type of clothing, measure detergent and count the amount of clothes you’re loading. Or, while you’re on your weekly grocery trip, have your children count up quantities, calculate savings on sales items or even the total amount of your shopping trip.

On vacations — specifically road trips — children can measure how much time is left before you reach your destination, what your average speeds are and even your miles per gallon.

3. Get money-wise.

Financial literacy is a recent initiative that educators want to instill in children — and sometimes even parents — particularly when it comes to college and saving for college. That being said, it’s always a good idea to start teaching your children early about money, and that includes keeping change and saving. Is there something in particular that your child really wants? Have your child start up a savings jar (or account) to purchase that item in the future. They can count up the change and see how much more they need to reach the goal. Don’t forget to add in any other factors, like taxes or sales, too!

4. Turn collections into lessons.

Young children love to collect things, whether they’re baseball cards, shells or even rocks. Children, especially younger ones, can learn through these collections to sort by certain parameters — a team, by sports statistics, by size, shape, color, or what have you. If you’re out and about, you can easily turn this concept into a game by having your child find, say, five scallop shells, five melon shells and five cowrie shells.

5. Try online games or apps.

Online games and apps are perfect for rainy days or when it’s just too dang hot to go outside. It’s also a way to make your child’s screen time as productive as possible.

Not all online games are first-person shooters. There are many that are, in fact, educational. Take, for example, the seemingly ever-popular Minecraft, in which gamers can build their own worlds with three-dimensional blocks. There are now even lesson plans for language arts, science, history and culture, computer science, math, and art and design. There’s also PBS Kids that includes games and apps for children between the ages of 2 and 8. The games can teach emotions and self-awareness, social skills, character, literacy, math and science. There are several other options, including National Geographic Kids, How Stuff Works for the inquisitive child and Scholastic, from the makers of your children’s textbooks.

Use these five summer learning activities to help your child build on skills and subject areas during his or her two-and-a-half month school hiatus. The key is to find activities that your child is most interested in and tailor lessons around those. If, for example, your child is absolutely in love with baseball, have him or her keep a scoring sheet on each game watched.

Summer learning is of utmost importance, as its benefits lie not only in your child keeping pace once school starts up again, but also in your child’s future success.

And, remember that you’ll need a sturdy Internet connection for some of these activities. Learn how Kinetic Internet is just the solution you need.