Summer vacation is a fantastic time to make memories with your children and enjoy a relaxed schedule free from homework. However, children can lose some of their academic progress over the summer, making the start of school in autumn incredibly challenging.
As a parent, you want to help your child retain their hard-earned education through the summer months without sacrificing their fun. Fortunately, there are several things to do that are both enjoyable and educational. These activities make it easy to enjoy the laid-back days of summer while also keeping your child’s mind engaged.
1. Schedule Reading Time Every Day
Language skills can become weak during summer vacation, but you don’t need to force your child to do book reports or spelling quizzes. Instead, schedule a daily reading time for approximately half an hour. It’s best to give your child the freedom to choose what they want to read. While you can encourage them to pick something at a challenging reading level, you don’t want to make daily reading time stressful.
You can supplement your child’s reading time with family read-aloud sessions. This gives you a chance to expose your child to a wide range of stories, even those that might be ahead of their reading level.
2. Incorporate Math Into Daily Activities
Like reading, math is another area that can suffer from summer learning loss. While it may seem like worksheets are an excellent way to combat this issue, most children don’t enjoy working on practice problems during their time away from school.
A great alternative is to spend the summer showing your child practical math applications:
- Use mental math to estimate the cost of groceries in the cart
- Play board games that include shape identification, counting, or money
- Discuss how sports statistics are calculated and track a favourite team or player over the summer
Using math in daily life can develop your child’s mental arithmetic capabilities and help them understand why math is a crucial skill to master.
3. Cook Meals Together
Cooking incorporates several school subjects: reading comprehension, science, math, and problem-solving. Plus, cooking is an essential life skill that everyone needs to learn. Summer vacation is a great time to involve your child in meal planning and cooking. In some cases, cooking together can encourage picky children to try new foods.
You may want to start by having your child assist in making one meal per week. Allow them to choose the menu and make a shopping list. Take them grocery shopping; the supermarket is an excellent place to practice mental math and budget management. Once you’re cooking, you can incorporate even more math by talking about fractions and volume or weight measurements.
4. Initiate Meaningful Discussions
Having purposeful conversations with your child can strengthen your relationship with them and also help them maintain essential language skills. When you discuss topics that your child is passionate about, you give them the chance to develop their storytelling, explanatory, persuasive, and comparative speaking abilities.
There are countless things you can discuss with your child, and conversations can deepen as your child gets older. Ask younger children questions about things they enjoy:
- Their latest Minecraft adventure
- A fort-building project
- Their favourite holiday or family tradition
With older children, you can discuss movie adaptations of favourite books, debate political or social "hot topics," or take a deep dive into a historical event or time period.
5. Pursue a New Interest
Summer is the perfect time to allow your child to pursue their passions, even those that don’t seem entirely “academic.” Giving your child the freedom to research an exciting topic, build a Lego city, or complete a messy science experiment could be the thing that leads them to a fulfilling career.
In many cases, children who have the freedom to pursue their interests can better identify their passions and strengths. This knowledge can make it easier for them to make their subject choices or apply for bursaries and scholarships when they move on to secondary school.
Avoid Summer Learning Loss With Fun and Creative Activities
While summer learning loss is a well-documented phenomenon, you don’t have to resign your children to a season of academic regression. You can keep your child’s mind engaged with lifestyle learning activities such as reading together, discussing movies, and exploring the outdoors.
Summer learning doesn’t require hours of study every day. In fact, it’s probably better to take a break from school-like activities such as worksheets and reports. Instead, find ways to incorporate literacy, math, and critical thinking into games, trips, and family activities. This approach gives your child a chance to apply their knowledge and problem-solving skills in real-world situations.
Our guest contributor, Amanda Holland, is equally passionate about math and grammar, and she has incorporated both into her career. She spent several years as a signals analyst, creating and editing reports for the intelligence community. After her two kids were born, she transitioned to a career as a freelance writer. When she isn't crafting content, she's usually reading, baking, or playing video games.
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