Looking for easy ways to keep your kids’ minds sharp over the summer? Summer learning loss is a very real phenomenon. Statistics show that school-aged children between 2nd and 9th grade can lose an average of 25%-30% of what they learn during the school year. But with just a little review over the summer, kids can retain nearly all of the information they learned without any backslide. They may even get ahead before the new school year begins.
Prevent summer learning loss with these strategies.
Summer Reading Programs/Incentives
Reading is one of the most important activities for kids to do over the summer. However, helping kids feel motivated to read can be difficult. Check out some of the summer reading programs at your local library or bookstore. Many programs suggest books on your child’s reading level and offer incentives to read, either a reward for the number of books read or for reading a certain amount of time every day. You can even set up your own reward system at home with summer reading incentives to help motivate your kids to spend more time reading.
Child Directed Research Project
Is there a particular topic that your child or children have been interested in? Perhaps the recent press on the International Space Station sparked an interest in space exploration for your kids. Maybe spotting an interesting bug in the yard they’ve never seen before led to an interest in bug hunting and identification. Turn their natural wonderment into a self-driven learning opportunity. Encourage them to keep a science journal to record their discoveries. Help them research the topic online. Check out library books on the topic. Let their learning be self-motivated rather than parent-driven.
Try Online Learning Programs
Kids love technology, so use it to your (and their) advantage. There are a myriad of online learning programs that make it fun to review skills. Most programs track their progress so that you can see what skills they’ve mastered and what they still need to work on. These programs work on a variety of devices from laptop computers to handheld devices so kids can be working on mastering skills wherever you go. Many programs are free and others require a one-time download fee or subscription.
Plant a Garden
One of the best learning experiences children can have is gardening. Till up a corner of the yard or build a raised garden bed and just experiment. Plant some flower seeds or bulbs and watch them bloom. Start a vegetable garden and encourage your kids to try all the different vegetables that grow. Kids may even be more likely to eat vegetables when they put in the sweat and effort to grow them on their own. Through the experience they’ll learn about soil quality, fertilizer, what plants need to grow and thrive, the life cycle of plants as they grow and eventually die when the weather turns cold.
Go on Virtual Tours of Museums
While many museums are not open for visitors, a lot of them offer virtual tours online. You can view exhibits and listen to commentary as if you were actually in the museum with a tour guide. Learn about science, art, history, and more from the comfort and safety of your home. Discuss what you see with your kids and encourage them to make connections between museum exhibits and some of things they’ve learned at school.
Implement Chores and Give Kids an Allowance
One of the best ways to teach math is through money. Assign the kids chores that are worth different values of money, or just give them a lump sum of allowance at the end of each week or month. Ask them to calculate how much they can earn before the first day of school. Have them look up things they may want to buy and determine how much money they will need in order to purchase them and how long it will take to earn it. Age appropriate math skills can be incorporated into this in many different ways.
Summer storms are often intriguing and can spark an interest in the weather. Analyze the weather, look at radar images as storms are moving through, discuss what causes storms, talk about lightning and electricity. One of the most interesting topics to discuss during a storm is to notice when you see the lightning and count the number of seconds that pass before you hear the resulting thunder. Talk about how light travels faster than sound. There is a mathematical equation that applies to this concept: count the seconds between the flash of lightning and the clap of thunder and divide the number by 5. Your answer indicates how many miles away the lightning is.
Make it Fun by Using Unique Mediums
Writing out math problems with pencil and paper may not excite your kids. But doing the same activity with colorful markers on a marker board can make all the difference. Scented pens and fun erasers don’t have to wait until back to school time. Use them now to help motivate kids to keep learning. Think beyond typical writing utensils and write math problems or letters in wet sand. Put shaving cream all over the table and let them write in it with their finger. Paint with water out on the driveway or patio. The possibilities are endless.
Teach Life Skills
Summer is a great time to learn new skills that will benefit your kids in the real world. Find age appropriate life skills you can teach your kids, such as doing the laundry, following a recipe to cook a meal, sewing, making up a bed with new sheets, or even simply tying shoes (it’s shocking how many kids these days have not mastered this basic skill). Older kids can learn how to change a tire or the oil in a car or balance a checkbook. Learning new skills helps keep the mind sharp even if it is not specifically related to school curriculum.
Virtual Tutoring or Educational Programs
Many schools and independent educational facilities and tutoring agencies offer summer programs to help kids get caught up, maintain their skills, or get ahead. While many of them will likely be virtual this summer, there are still plenty of programs being offered. If you feel underqualified to teach your child the concepts and skills they are required to learn, utilize the services of professional educators.
Find a Book Buddy or Set Up Book Clubs
You’re likely not the only family where the kids are stuck at home all day this summer. Talk to other parents with kids that are similar ages to yours or who go to school together and set up a book buddy or book club. Have the kids choose a book they are interested in and schedule video chats to discuss what they read. This holds kids accountable for doing their reading so they can knowledgeably discuss the book with their friends.
Writing is a skill that can only be improved with continued practice. If you have a reluctant writer, consider establishing a pen pal relationship with a friend or a relative who lives out of town or in the next state. Having someone to write to and the excitement of receiving letters in return is a great motivator. Don’t spend too much time worrying about spelling and grammar. Just encourage them to write legibly enough for their friend to read their words.
Keep Kids Active
The relationship between the body and mind is stronger than some people realize. Physical movement encourages cognitive development. Movements where the hands and feet cross over the midline of the body is known to improve the connection between the two hemispheres of the brain. When exercise is associated with information and skills, kids can pick up on them faster and retain them longer.
Just listening to music, especially classical composers like Mozart and Beethoven, can improve cognitive function. Other types of music also stimulate brain waves and elicit pleasure centers in the brain. Learning to play a musical instrument has been known to develop the same part of the brain that interprets math and logical thinking. Spend some time on music this summer or at least play it in the background when working on other skills and concepts. Have a dance party in the kitchen while cooking dinner and you cover music and movement at the same time.
If there’s one thing kids like, it’s a competition. Send them on a scavenger hunt to find items pertaining to skills and facts they should know. Give clues that they have to figure out in order to find the right item. For example, younger children look for shapes around the house or yard while older children can look for examples of right angles or other angle measurements. You can make scavenger hunt clues to reinforce any vocabulary or concept.
Sticker Math with Actual Stickers
A new trend in teaching adding and subtracting of multi-digit numbers using base 10 is sticker math. The idea is that you can get stickers in sheets of 100, strips of 10, and individual ones. Kids can add and subtract larger numbers using the sticker concept, and using actual stickers to do it makes it that much more fun. They also gain a deeper understanding of the concept with this method rather than the standard algorithm.
Figuring out puzzles helps kids develop their fine motor skills, cognitive skills, and emotional skills all at once. From jigsaw puzzles to Rubik’s Cubes, kids use their hands to manipulate the puzzle, develop their problem solving skills, and are rewarded for their efforts with a finished product. Puzzles also help to improve focus.
There are many math games you can play by just rolling a set of dice. Practice adding or multiplying the numbers together and see who can reach a certain number first. Talk about probability and statistics. You can even use dice for reading and writing, such as rolling a number to see which question you should answer or what topic you should write about. The possibilities are endless with dice.
Geddes School Supplies Can Help Prevent Summer Learning Loss
Keep your kids from backsliding and losing their hard-earned skills this summer with the help of school supplies by Geddes. Whether you need prizes for summer reading incentives, colorful pens and erasers to make learning fun, or puzzle blocks, we have a wide range of products for you to choose from.
Request a catalog today to see our full line-up of super fun school supplies.