7 Simple Ways to Keep Your Child Learning All Summer Long
by Patti Rommel, Director of Research and Development at Lakeshore Learning Materials
1. Make Summer a Real Page-Turner!
Summer reading builds a richer vocabulary and keeps brains engaged. Make it a habit to visit your local library and help your child find “just right” books that are of high interest and written at an appropriate level. To do this, use the five-finger test: Have your child read a page with several words as you hold up a finger for each unknown word. If you reach five fingers, the book may be at a higher level than your child is ready for, which may prevent independent reading. However, if this book is still one your child wants, read it together.
You can also help make reading fun and interactive. Set up a special tent or indoor fort that’s designated as “The Reading Tent.” Then set aside time to talk with your child about what he or she is reading. Ask questions about your child’s favorite part or character. You might even start a family book club!
2. Make the Most of Screen Time
It’s no secret that kids today are easily engaged by tablets, computers and smartphones. Take advantage of treasured screen time and look for interactive books and apps that are not only fun, but also strengthen reading and math skills. This way, your child can learn while riding in the car to grandma’s house or to your summer vacation spot!
3. Have Fun with Word Play…Outside!
Sidewalk chalk and water painting are two classic summer activities that can be turned into exciting outdoor learning experiences—particularly for early readers! Write words such as star, sun and ball on the sidewalk. Have your child draw or paint the picture of the word underneath. You can also ask your child to paint or write rhyming words like hat, cat and rat. Then ask, “What do you notice about how the words are spelled?” This helps early readers build decoding and phonics skills.
4. Boost Math Skills with Card Games
Cards are a great way to keep math facts fresh while simultaneously developing number sense and computation skills. Use a standard deck of cards to play “War,” a perfect game for helping young children recognize and compare numbers that are greater than or less than. When playing with older children, players can take two cards, add them together (or subtract or multiply) and compare the results. The player with the highest number wins!
5. Cook Up Some Fun
Plan a meal or a favorite dessert to bake, and then have your child read the recipe and make a grocery list. While cooking or baking together, ask your child to measure the ingredients. This is a great way for children to practice measurement, boost reading and writing skills…not to mention learn to follow written instructions.
6. Give Family Game Night an Educational Twist
Game nights offer the perfect opportunity to spend time together as a family and keep kids’ minds sharp over the summer. Choose games that encourage the reading of question cards, following directions or even counting money and solving math problems. When the whole family is involved, learning and bonding take place at the same time!
7. Use Summer Experiences as a Springboard for Learning!
Did your child visit a museum or amusement park this summer? Did you take a family vacation? Build upon these experiences by asking your child, “Which activity did you enjoy the most?” If your child enjoyed the roller coasters, do some online research or find books about the top U.S. roller coasters and share these with your child. Going on vacation? Invite your child to review travel guides, maps and brochures about the city you’re visiting. Then ask your child to help plan a list of things to do. These activities provide reading practice, teach map-reading skills and build vocabulary!
Patti Rommel is Director of Research and Development at Lakeshore Learning Materials, one of the country’s premier producers of children’s educational products. A former elementary educator, Patti leads Lakeshore’s efforts to create quality, standards-based materials for early childhood programs, elementary classrooms and homes nationwide.