"Learning doesn’t necessarily need to look like traditional school! There are plenty of fun activities that kids and parents can do over the summer to extend learning throughout the entire year and prevent backslide while school’s out."
Studies show that students are at risk of losing up to two months of progress in reading and math skill over the summer break. While July and August offer kids opportunities to relax and have fun, it’s still important to keep their intellectual gears turning too.
Learning doesn’t necessarily need to look like traditional school, though! There are plenty of fun activities that kids and parents can do over the summer to extend learning throughout the entire year and prevent backslide while school’s out. Here are a few ways to create meaningful learning experiences over the summer:
Start a Summer Book Club
Summer reading has disappeared from many schools and districts over the last decade because teachers never successfully convinced students to buy into the idea that it was valuable. However, reading actively is still the best way to prevent erosion of literacy skills and build vocabulary.
Your book club could take all sorts of forms. It could be a family book club where siblings and parents read and discuss a book together a few nights a week or a 30 minute discussion between friends at the beginning or end of a weekly play date. You could discuss a novel a chapter at a time or read a different short story before each meeting. Nonfiction texts are great options for kids who love history and science too!
Visit a Local Historical Site
Schools have brought students on field trips for decades because experiencing a new setting naturally stimulates intellectual curiosity and makes learning more exciting. Just because school’s out doesn’t mean that kind of high-engagement learning has to stop. You can plan your own excursion to a museum or nearby historic site.
Regardless of where you live, you’re never more than a half hour drive from some sort of landmark, fort or historic home, and admission to such places is generally very inexpensive or even free. You don’t need to do anything grandiose like travel across the country to see the Grand Canyon or drive all of Route 66, either. Keeping things local is great for kids because it helps them learn about and appreciate their local history and culture while still getting home in time for dinner.
Designate and Document a Summer Project
Don’t get scared when you see the word “project!” We’re not talking about writing an essay or making a diorama that illustrates the Battle of Waterloo; we’re talking about creating something awesome. Making a garden, building a clubhouse or learning how to fish are just a few examples of projects that kids can take on for the summer. The most important thing is that it’s something fun that allows them to explore their interests and creative abilities.
To make a summer project especially purposeful, kids can keep a diary or journal documenting their progress and describing their triumphs and tribulations. Journaling builds reflective and metacognitive skills and creates a great artifact that kids can look back on years later.