School is out, and summer has begun! In the midst of lazy days and family together time, consider fun ways you can help keep your kids' brains from losing what they've already learned. Here are a handful of educational games and motivational ideas from other parents to help your children beat summer learning loss this year:
Begin With Vocabulary
A good game can be fun and educational. Download a free set of 48 playing cards from the game FrankenWords. Use this fast-paced matching game to help your kids experiment with compound words and strengthen their vocabulary.
Capitalize on Reading
Get four practical, hands-on ways to encourage your kids to read more in "4 Ways to Motivate Kids to Read More" on the PluggedIn Blog. After all, reading books during the summer can drastically stop the summer learning slide.
To encourage creativity, I've challenged my family with the following projects:
Tiger treads. With white canvas shoes, fabric paint, permanent markers and a picture of a tiger, they needed to make a pair of shoes inspired by the photo.
Cake construction. With a pre-made sheet cake, frosting and decorations, they had to create structures, such as a pyramid or a zoo.
Do the robot. They were given boxes, duct tape and access to things in the garage to turn one person into a robot.
It's all Greek to me. They had to make a video about Greece using a recording device, bedsheets and a book about ancient Greece.
After each challenge, we posted photos or videos online and invited family and friends to vote for the ones they liked best. The winners earned prizes, such as getting out of a regular chore or choosing a favorite dinner on Friday.
I give my children a fun or surprising fact about a continent, country or state each morning, and then give additional facts as the day progresses. By not letting them guess until I’d given them three facts, I eliminate random guessing. The clues later in the day make the geographic location more obvious.
To practice math skills over the summer, my family and I have gone bowling and let our kids score our games manually. We’ve also cooked together, increasing or decreasing recipe sizes so our kids have to add, multiply and divide fractions. But our game of “shopping without money” has provided more than just basic math practice. It’s also taught a life skill. I give my kids an amount of imaginary money, perhaps $100, along with the weekly ads. Then I have them simulate shopping for a specific need, such as that week’s meals or a party for their friends. The exercise requires rounding, estimating, completing other basic math functions, figuring out the sales tax and making wise decisions about how to spend their money.
Prevent the Summer Slide
Students lose an average of one month of academic learning over the summer break, according to research from the RAND Corporation. To prevent this "summer slide," make reading a part of your family’s summer fun.
Read together: My husband and I each choose one book in our kids' favorite series and read alongside them. Reading from their area of interest gives us a glimpse into their world and leads to great discussions.
Make research fun: Going on vacation? Research your destination. Challenge the kids to find one fun fact about local history or animal life and gather information on possible places to explore.
Take advantage of library reading programs: Many libraries have fun incentives. Our library sponsors prize giveaways and social events for tweens.
Start a book club: Choose a popular title, and invite your kids and their friends to read along. Organize a get-together close to summer's end that includes food, fun and discussion.
Keep Tweens Active
Summer offers a welcome change of pace for families, but it's not easy to keep kids active and engaged. What to do? Structure is the key. Not a get-up-early-and-go-nonstop kind of structure, but one that provides schedules to follow, lists to mark off and projects to complete.
Before the last day of school, our family makes three lists. First, a list of fun summer activities such as library visits, swimming adventures and picnic lunches. Next, a list of chores done once or twice a year, such as washing windowsills, cleaning out closets and organizing bathroom drawers. Our last list includes projects that require thinking or giving, such as planning a vacation, redecorating a bedroom and volunteering for those in need.
We compile all this information, then make a daily routine and a weekly project list on a printed calendar. Each kid has a copy of the calendar in his room, along with a marker to chart his progress.
Resources for Faith and Fun
- Help kids learn more about their faith and the world around them by subscribing to Clubhouse Jr. magazine (for 3- to 7-year-olds) or to Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse magazine (for 8- to 12-year-olds).
- But don't stop there! Consider subscribing to the Odyssey Adventure Club so all your kids can listen to quality, faith-based stories and enjoy many club activities.
- Then find other great articles about how to raise godly children at Spiritual Growth for Kids.
- Enjoy a free Summer Adventure Kit to help your family grow closer together as you learn more about God.