We’ve hit the mid-point of summer break here in Ontario, and I don’t know about you but my kids have watched more tv than I want to admit – despite being at the cottage for the majority of July. Regular parents can bask in this glory of nothingness but my profession blocks this joy for me. I’m constantly worried about summer learning loss. Yes, this is a real ‘thing’ – see infograph below. Scary!
How can you bridge the gap for your kids this summer? Read on for some easy ideas to keep the learning fire going at home during the dog days of summer.
Read – there are so many summer opportunities to read if the skill is modelled by parents and/or at least scheduled regularly. Visit a library, read travel or camping guides for an upcoming vacation, borrow a couple books from school and read them over the break. I’ve been trying to read in both English and French every second day with my kids, and to change things up I’ve got a big bag of books here at the cottage. If you do ANYTHING to curb summer learning loss this summer, make it reading.
Write – write a daily journal or travelogue if on the road. A great idea I’ve asked my own kids to do is create a scrapbook of their summer that includes mementos, images, as well as writing. Don’t worry about making the writing ‘perfect’, just get your kids to write. As for the more creative types, poetry or fictional writing can also be a great outlet either by hand or via technology applications, such as Storybird or Wattpad.
Check out examples from my kids journals below! They LOVE this activity. I’m asking they practice writing in both English and French and I’m NOT correcting or editing their work; I just want them to express themselves in writing. Luckily, my kids really like to draw as well:)
Play Games – games are a great source of summer learning. Many card and board games support basic mathematical skills such as patterning, counting, predicting, analyzing, etc. Other games also could support topic specific learning in other subject areas depending on the game selected. Our cottage favourite is the classic UNO!
Get Outside – summer is time for outside play, which increases physical activity for kids, but it’s also a great opportunity to learn about the great outdoors and geography/science. Get outside and get physical this summer: run, bike, swim, play games, hike, etc. Take time learning about types of lakes, fauna or rock formations on a camping trip. Or, while viewing the stars at night start conversations about the atmosphere, constellations and space. Growing a garden this summer? Let your kids take care of and monitor its growth.
Check out this image of my son and nephews taking part in one of their favourite cottage outdoor pass times: frog/snake/crayfish hunting. Not only do they learn about the appearance, size and behaviour of amphibians during this practice, they also learn empathy and building relationships with nature as they run a catch and release operation!
Educational Apps – if you allow screen time during the summer, why not use it wisely? There are a plethora of educational apps/online games out there for any subject area. Some of my favourites include: Habitat (environmental consciousness), Storybird (writing), Prodigy (mathematics), Learning A-Z (reading), Storymap (geography), Canada’s History for Kids (history).
Make the Most of Summer: Have a PLAN!
The most important thing to curb summer learning loss is to have a plan in place. Focus on what your child needs in terms of learning and build a regular activity plan from there. Summer will be gone before we know it, so take advantage of your alternative classroom whether it’s at home, the cottage or a vacation destination!