Once the school year comes to a close, parents may wonder what they can do to keep their children learning throughout the summer. It can be a challenging feat when learning goes up against laidback mornings, playing outside, and time with friends! While both children and parents need time to recharge, incorporating simple learning opportunities into the summer months is definitely achievable and can keep your child “in the groove” until the new school year begins.
Summer Learning around the House
Young children can participate in learning experiences around the house without even knowing it! For example, having your child help set the table or pack items for a picnic gives him the opportunity to count out utensils, plates, or napkins. Baking together helps him begin learning about measurement. Earning a little bit of money for helping with chores gives him exposure to coins. Talk about their names and their value. Making a grocery list? Have your child write the first letter for some of the items.
Every now and then, you may wish to incorporate some more “school-like” learning activities into your child’s day. Select worksheets that focus on early reading and writing skills. These activities will keep your child in school mode and help fend off summer regression with her literacy skills.
You can also create a summer reading list for your child. Many libraries have summer reading programs to encourage kids to read, with rewards at the end of the program. Your librarian may have a suggested book list for different ages and grades. Or you and your child can create your own list of books they’d like to read, perhaps based around specific topics or interests.
Learning Activities Outside
Summer provides great opportunities to take the learning outside! There are science experiences all around. Children can learn about caterpillars and other insects, notice how trees change throughout the year, explore how shadows work, and try planting your own garden. They may also enjoy using different modalities to practice writing, like using sidewalk chalk or painting with water on the pavement or brick walls. Activities like skipping and hide and seek provide opportunities for counting practice. When children are playing, they are also learning!
Develop Social Skills too
In addition to academic learning, summertime provides great opportunities for developing social skills. Playing games with family or friends can encourage turn-taking. Sharing is a key part of playing with toys. Developing their oral language skills occurs as children interact with others. Learning to compromise, use positive strategies to cope with emotions, and solve problems are also valuable skills that children can continue developing during the summer.
Your kids may enjoy joining the library’s summer reading program. Summer can be a great time to encourage them to try new books and spend more time reading, especially if you have a reluctant reader. If you have any travel planned, pack a few books—kids stuck in a car for hours on end might just be tempted to crack that book open.
You might want to exercise their creativity and language development by doing fun writing activities with them. For example, ask them to make thank-you letters for their teachers or let them create a children’s book together with their friends. You can also sign them up for arts and crafts classes. Creative activities are perfect for bonding with the family and making new friends.
Don’t Forget Phys Ed
Children can participate in activities throughout the summer that help them develop their fine and gross motor skills. Fine motor skills are supported through activities like cutting, writing, painting, using lace boards, or threading beads on a string. Gross motor skills are practiced when children run, jump, climb, throw a ball, swim, or ride a bike. These are all valuable, fun experiences for kids to have as they grow and develop!
Summer can be a great time to expand your child’s physical activity by enrolling them in a summer camp. We usually do swim lessons over the summer as the kids learn more when they are going swimming every day. Bike camps help them have the confidence to go further on their bikes, opening up other possibilities for summer exploring. Or maybe your child wants to try a new sport or new activity—a week in the summer is an easier way to give something a test than committing to lessons for a full semester or full school year.
Take Time to Teach Life Skills
Summer can be a great time for children to begin mastering day-to-day skills that will help them become more independent. Maybe they need help getting their shoes on. If you’re not in a rush and have more time on your side, let them try on their own. The same goes for learning to use zippers or snaps. Independence can be worked towards during meals and snacks.
Can your child open containers and packages? Can she help you put things in the recycling bin? How about having her put items back in the fridge after dinner? Consider other ways your child may be able to help around the house. She can put her toys away, match up the socks from the dryer, help water plants, fill a pet’s food dish, or put dirty clothes in the hamper.
Summer can be a good time to spend the extra time teaching your kids how to do these chores and implementing a chore system. Once school starts and your days get busier, your kids already know how to do these chores and what the routine is, so it will be easier for them to keep it up. Remember that learning life skills are just as important as learning academics. When your kids move out on their own, they’ll thank you for teaching them to cook, clean and do laundry.
When school is done, there are still plenty of learning experiences for your kindergarten child to participate in. At this young age, children are constantly learning through activities like playing, talking, and helping. Incorporating learning opportunities into their day doesn’t have to be complicated. Keep it quick, simple, and fun!