7 ways to keep your kids learning this summer
Have you heard about the “summer slide”? Studies conducted by the National Summer Learning Association show that kids can lose two months’ worth of the knowledge they gained during the school year over the summer months. Here are seven ways to keep from falling into the slide:
Learn your kids’ interests.
“One thing I’ve always told parents to do is to really engage with their kids’ interests,” says Alfonso Alva, EdD, a former school principal and current campus college chair for the College of Education at the University of Phoenix Main Campus. “Find out what makes them tick, and show them it interests you, too.”
Turn everyday activities into lessons.
Summer is a time during which parents can teach children how the skills they’ve learned in school work in the real world. “Regular household activities can reinforce school-year learning,” says Ashley Norris, regional assistant dean for the College of Education.
“Writing grocery lists, calculating restaurant tips and measuring for recipes all take reading and math skills, plus you’re engaging with your child in the process.”
Get out into the community.
Parents and kids can use the summer months to learn from what is happening in their own backyards. “Farmers’ markets are common in the summer, and they offer so many potential lessons,” Norris notes. “Where else can you learn about science, nutrition and economics all at the same time?”
Meanwhile, outdoor concerts and craft fairs can get kids interested in the fine and performing arts, while museum visits broaden kids’ cultural horizons.
“Take a nature walk in the woods, go camping, study bugs, work in the garden,” Norris encourages. “Talk about what you see with your child. Enjoy the time together, and learn from it, too.”
“Encourage your kids to research what you’re seeing out in the community on the Internet,” Norris suggests. “Then work with them to develop multimedia presentations and reports on what they find — which everyone can share on family night.”
Freedom from regular homework assignments means kids can learn in different ways. Scrapbooking, journaling, arts and crafts, and even making digital movies are all ways for kids to think outside the box and have fun doing it. “Summer is a time for kids to learn through play, without the structure of regular school days,” Norris says.
No matter what learning activities you and your child choose, have fun together, Alva emphasizes. “Just sitting down and talking to your kids is becoming a lost art,” he says. “Make the most of every moment.”