This article was previously featured on Momaha.
One of my fondest childhood memories is the incredible feeling of freedom I experienced each May on the last day of school. I walked out of the school building carrying the remains of my school year, a back pack full of half-used pencils, broken crayons and used up notebooks. The entire summer was in front of me. My child eyes refused to focus far enough ahead to see the next grade looming in August.
In the years since, I have become a parent. As I watch my children come home dazzled by the possibilities of summer, I’m very aware of the challenges that stand in front of them in the not-too-distant future. Like most parents, I want to make sure I take every possibility to help them be prepared for their next grade.
Summer provides students and parents the rich opportunities to APPLY academic learning into real world experiences. If you do fun activities, your kids won’t even realize they are practicing their academics and learning new skills. Here are some suggestions for summer activities that allow kids to use the skills learned throughout the school year.
1. Cook together. Measurement and fractions are embedded in all cooking tasks. For older kids, practice doubling or cutting a recipe in half.
2. Read together. Reading is one of the best activities we can do with our kids. The Reading to Kids website provides a long list of recommended books by grade level. You can click on the title to get an overview of the book and a list of suggested craft activities you can do with your kids while discussing the book. For older kids, read the book before or after they have read it. Share your thoughts. If your child doesn’t like to read traditional books, find a magazine that reflects his or her interests. Don’t forget to be a role model – let your child see you reading for pleasure, too.
3. Hunt for numbers. Numbers are all over our world – street names, price tags, zip codes, speed limits. Ask your kids to point out all the number they see. Keep a list of what the numbers are communicating (speed, price, etc…) See if you can make your list longer on your next outing.
4. Interviews. Kids love to hear stories about their families and what life was like years ago. Set aside some time to interview an older family member about what life was like when he or she was a child. If the older family member was raised nearby, go and visit the neighborhood. You can further this activity by building a family tree or investigating your heritage on sites such as ancestry.com.
5. Think ahead to fall. Most schools have well developed websites. Take some time to explore the web page and resources for the grade your child will enter in August. Seeing the types of resources will give you a great idea of some of the major topics he or she will study. Use these ideas to help your child get early exposure to the topics.
6. Most importantly, have fun being together.