Schools out, but the learning can continue over the summer vacation in a fun-filled way. Take advantage of this relaxed time of year to have enjoyable experiences and creative adventures with your children. Here are some tips for children of all ages:
Read, Read, Read…. That is the most important thing you can do with your child all summer. Most schools send home a summer reading list encouraging kids to read daily and that’s a great place to start. Borrow books from the public library and do book swamps among the kids’ friends and neighbors. Have a family read aloud; you can connect it to your vacation or tie it into an activity you have planned for the summer.
Math is all around us….
- Start measuring around the house. Have your kids help prepare a meal. The kitchen is a great place to practice math skills: reading recipes and measuring the ingredients.
- Reorganize their rooms and have them create a floor plan and measure spaces. Reorganize their drawers and closets: categorize things keeping like items together. Create a rule for what belongs where.
- When you are in the car, see how many math facts (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) they can do when you are stopped at a red light. Watch the number increase as the summer goes along!
- At the beach, collect shells and colored rocks or beach glass. Sort them and identify them.
Writing activities can be fun.
- I’m a big fan of all kinds of journals. Keep one on a trip, keep one for the books you read—listing the author, title and a brief summary or comment about the book life (I recommend this to adults too,) Keep one everyday to chronicle the events of your life.
- Write letters: If your child is away at camp write to them and be sure they have the supplies (don’t forget to give them stamps) so they can write back. Save those letters as a keepsake for them. Write to family and friends that are far away. And always write thank-you notes!
- Create a daily agenda of activities for the day
- Send postcards while on vacation or if you are taking a “staycation” and doing day trips, write postcards from those locales too.
Educational vacations: Plan your summer vacation with an educational theme.
- Find out what your child will be studying in the coming school year and visit an historic site to tie in with the curriculum.
- Hand over tour guidebooks and travel brochures to your kids and have them tell you what looks good to them. It’s all about teamwork and enhancing their social and negotiating skills.
- Let you children find the destinations on atlases and maps. When you are driving, get them used to directional terminology using words like north, south, east and west.
- As you travel on the road, mark the routes on a big map, measure distances, and hang up this souvenir of your adventure when you get home.
Free activities in the community. You’d be surprised how many local museums are free or have days that admission is free. Start with your public library to see what they offer. Some libraries can give you free passes to museums in the area. And despite these difficult economic times, your public library is still offering free programs and films for the entire family.
Check out your public library online. They have a host of free online resources available to children and teens. From picture books online to educational games.
Cultural activities abound in the summer. Local parks often have free weekly concerts. If you know what is on the program in advance you can prepare your kids by listening to that type of music. Or you can always follow-up after an enjoyable evening of music under the stars.
Play! Play games of all kinds, educational and not so educational. Get a big jigsaw puzzle and scatter the pieces on a coffee table and work on it as a family. Take a break from technology! While kids need those skills (and many surpass their parents at this,) time off from their electronic games is a good thing. Playing cards and board games enhance thinking and social skills.
Everyone wants to be a star! Encourage your children to tell stories and create their own plays. As a child, my sister and I put on shows for the kids in our neighborhood. We wrote the skits, designed the sets and made our own costumes—good old-fashioned fun!
But most of all enjoy your time together with your family, relax and recharge those batteries!