Stop Summer Learning Loss
School may be out, but learning is always in! Check out our insanely fun tips to keep your child's skills revved and ready for the new school year, plus even more fun, educational activities for your kids
Make It Relevant
The biggest question of the school year—“Why is this important?”—can best be answered during the summer. If your child can finally understand the value of computation when he makes change at the store or calculates distance on a map, he'll have learned a far more meaningful and lasting mathematical lesson than simply memorizing his fours.
Encourage your child's interest in sports statistics as a way of collecting data and analyzing it, and don't shy away from having a kid use a calculator to do it. “Real-life mathematicians and scientists use calculators regularly,” Chen notes.
Keep It Personal
As the parent, you are in the best position to understand what gaps are present in your child's learning. Your interest and participation in your child's reading or math activities can also make a real difference in the summer losses in these areas. “You don't want to hand your kid a printed math worksheet and walk away,” says Matthew Boulay, interim CEO of the National Center for Summer Learning. “Instead, write down a math problem on a piece of paper and give it to your child to solve, and then have your child do the same for you.” This personal approach, like cuddling with your child while you're reading, enhances learning in real ways. “The hidden secret about reading is that it's also about the relationship,” Chen points out. “It's about sharing something with your child—and the same can be true of doing math together.”
It is the conversations you have with your children as you all learn that are perhaps most important. “Listen to what they talk about, the things they say during the odd moments—those are the teachable moments, when they are curious and ready to learn,” says Dr. Willis. When Dave Neal, a fifth-grade teacher in Big Sky, MT, evaluates each new crop of students in the fall, he says he sees the value of this kind of summer educational investment. “I can always tell the difference in students who have had thought-provoking conversations and spent time with their parents during the summer.”
If science makes you think of dreary formulas and dusty beakers, think again! Kids can have crazy fun making things happen—blowing up soda volcanoes, mixing up goop—while learning about the natural world.
Just being outside near things green and growing can improve attention span, creativity, mood, even IQ!
You can toss the worksheets and flash cards: Summer learning is all about play.
Kids' brains absorb more information when they're having fun. Read on for 12 smart summer activities!