Summer break: three glorious months of swimming, eating popsicles, and relaxing under the warm sun. For kids, anyways. Unfortunately, we parents sometimes have to worry about the dreaded Summer slide. Research has shown that if children's minds are not stimulated during Summer vacation, they'll lose between 25 and 30 percent of what they learned during the school year, according to the Brookings Institution. Meanwhile, the Harvard Graduate School of Education notes that kids lose 2.6 months' worth of math skills as well. Yikes. But since it's Summer and they're drained from the school year, I try to find enjoyable ways to stimulate their minds — because who says learning isn't fun?
First, I make sure that we make weekly trips to the library, where I let my kids pick out any books they like. It doesn't matter to me if it is a well-known novel or a comic book, as long as they are reading and engaging with books they enjoy. I take advantage of the free classes our local library offers. Last Summer, my kids were enrolled in a literacy enrichment program. They were put in groups with other kids their age and read and wrote amazing stories. Plus, the group leaders were teenagers, which you know, my kids thought was super cool.
I also was fortunate enough to get my kids a weekly tutor to help them in the subjects they struggle with. The reason they enjoyed it? I made sure to find a tutor they absolutely loved, one who knew how to make learning fun for them. Luckily for me, one of my daughter's favorite teachers was available to tutor her. Since she knew my daughter well, she tailored her lessons to my daughter's interests and made sure her teaching strategies mirrored the way my daughter learns.
We also do fun activities, like bike through the park, spend a day at the beach, or ride roller-coasters at amusement parks. But I sneak in learning opportunities then, too. For my six-year-old, for example, I'll put her in charge of telling me what time it says on her analog watch. For my nine-year-old, she'll be responsible for reading the facts signs posted about the animals at the zoo to us.
Brandi Rosenbaum, a fourth grade teacher from Katy, Texas, likes to encourage kids to go to children's museums that are interactive. "That way, they're learning and creating or playing at the same time," she says. In this day and age when all kids seem to want to do is be glued to a screen, it's nice for the family to ditch the tech and let their children learn through hands-on activities. Rosenbaum also encourages visiting historical sites in your hometown. "It's fun for your kids to hear the history of their area and all the cool things that happened, especially if they've already talked about it in school," she says.
The bottom line is there's no reason educational opportunities can't be fun. You know your child best, so you know how to make learning fun for them. Don't be afraid to get creative and think out of the box, either! Your kids will appreciate it, especially come Fall.