What images does summer conjure up for you? Perhaps you think of picnics, hikes in nature, flying kites, swimming, and eating outside while gazing at the stars. Some of the best summer memories revolve around having great adventures – not doing worksheets or math drills. Yet, many of us feel pressured to keep our children academically engaged during the summer break. It’s understandable that we want our children’s minds to stay active in an effort to avoid losing all the academic progress they made during the school year. But we also want our children’s summer to be carefree and filled with fun. The great news is, that balance is possible! There are many creative ways to keep your child’s brain engaged while letting them enjoy the fun freedom of summer.
Fun Educational Summer Activities
While summer workbooks and practice sheets abound this time of year in bookstores and online, it’s possible to bypass these and still keep our children’s minds active during the summer. During the summer, some of the best educational activities for children involve fewer desks and worksheets and more of a hands-on, playful approach to learning.
Building Projects: Children love working with their hands-on building projects. While it seems like a fun project to them, they are building valuable spatial skills while doing these activities. Whether using building blocks, Legos, magnetic tiles, or tangram puzzles, all these activities are wonderful ways to help foster spatial awareness and math skills, as well as help children, learn about size and shapes. Older children and teens might enjoy more complex projects that involve building real-life structures like birdhouses or treasure boxes. Either way, hands-on projects like these make for engaging and educational summer activities.
Reading: Of course, we all know that reading during the summer is an excellent way for children to maintain their literacy skills. However, sometimes children might be reluctant to keep up their reading habits during the school break. To help overcome this, consider thinking outside the box a bit when planning for reading during the summer. Children don’t just have to read books from an approved grade-level reading list. Instead, offer them some freedom to choose books that interest them. Consider all types of reading materials and genres–graphic novels, magazines, comic books, cookbooks, digital books, or even audiobooks (yes, they count too!). If there is a particular hobby, sport, or activity that your child loves, encourage them to read books on that topic. If your area has a local library, seek out the summer reading program and see if they offer charts or rewards for children reading during the summer.
Also, consider different settings in which your child might enjoy reading. During nice weather, perhaps they could read outside under a tree, in a hammock, or even in a tree. While traveling, children can take books to read in the car, bus, or airplane. Older siblings might enjoy reading to younger ones if you have more than one child. For families with pets, children often have a great time reading to their family’s favorite creature.
Math Fun: While math lessons might primarily involve worksheets and pencils during the school year, math can take on a whole new meaning during the summer. Math is part of many aspects of life, and the summer is a wonderful time to help children understand this even more. For example, cooking involves using math in a very practical way. You can encourage your children to join you in the kitchen and learn about measurements, conversions, weights, baking times, and temperature. Plus, there’s the bonus of eating the fruits of your labor.
While traveling, children can learn a valuable math lesson about calculating distance and estimating travel time. Math fun can also happen while planning a trip. Engage children to help you plan a trip budget, estimate food, and lodging costs, or other travel expenses.
Math also emerges in many sporting events that children enjoy. Most team sports involve statistics, player averages for scoring, and other fun math tasks. Encourage your burgeoning sports fans to calculate team statistics or keep track of their favorite player’s scoring performance.
Gardening and Nature: During the summer, the best educational activities often occur outdoors. In the blossoming of nature, hide lessons in science, geology, and conservation. Given the hands-on aspects of gardening, it’s one of the easiest activities to include children. Younger and older children often find it fun and relaxing to dig in the dirt and watch something new emerge from the soil. Children can help with many gardening tasks–planting, weeding, watering, and harvesting. In the process, they not only come to a greater appreciation of nature but learn valuable lessons about soil, insects, plant biology, and conserving natural resources.
Let Their Interests Lead
Instead of a summer focused on worksheets or quizzes, allow your child’s summer to revolve around their unique interests. The most effective summer learning and some of the best summer memories happen when children follow their interests to discover new gems of knowledge on their own. Use the freedom of summer to encourage children to investigate all those things they don’t have time to explore during the school year. Fun and learning can go hand in hand during the summer.
The information provided on this site is NOT medical advice and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, provide medical or behavioral advice, treat, prevent, or cure any disease, condition, or behavior. You should consult with a qualified healthcare professional regarding your child’s development to make a medical diagnosis, determine a treatment for a medical condition, or obtain other related advice.