My number one recommendation for summer learning? Let your kids play! The benefits of free play are far-reaching: better self-regulation skills, increased organization, and the ability to easily switch between tasks.
But not all play has to be self-directed; sometimes providing a little guidance can create rich learning experiences. Integrating some more directed activities into your child’s summer plans will help to make summer both fun AND full of learning.
How do you do it? Here are my top 10 tips!
1. Make it Interesting
Follow your child’s interests! This is connected to free play– when kids are engaged in free play, they are essentially following their interests to explore the world in a way that they find meaningful and engaging. Not sure what your child is interested in exploring? Ask them! You may be surprised by what they want to investigate this summer.
2. Address Areas of Growth
After you’ve honed in on what your child would like to learn, think about what your child needs to work on. Maybe she’s struggling with reading or has trouble with the fine-motor skills needed to write. Identify one interest and one area of growth, then put them together to come up with learning activities.
Say your child is working on fine-motor skills but is really interested in science. Think about how she can develop fine-motor skills through hands-on science experiments. Maybe that means giving her droppers to use or tweezers to use to take things apart during investigations.
3. Get a Personalized Learning Plan
Want help coming up with personalized activities that meld your child’s interests and areas of growth? Get a Personalized Learning Plan (use the code SUMMER for 20% off)! Through these plans, we talk with each other, you tell me all about your child, and I come up with a set of engaging learning activities designed just for your child.
Recently I designed a learning plan for a teenager who is uninterested in reading, but very interested in music. I came up with two high-interest books featuring teenagers who love music: Eleanor & Park and King Dork. Then I created a variety of activities to do before and after reading, including making mixes of songs characters in the books would enjoy and analyzing why or why not the characters in each book might get along with each other in real life. I was so thrilled to get a report back from the teen’s mom sharing how the plan motivated her daughter to read.
4. Check out Pinterest
Pinterest is an endless treasure trove of activities to do with your child. I’ve created a summer learning board where I’m storing all sorts of fun activities. From water balloon phonics to sight word hopscotch, Pinterest has you covered.
5. Read Together
My three-year-old is obsessed with our weekly trips to our local library. The thrill of stuffing bags with books is only second to the joy she experiences when we read through every single book over and over. Summer is a great time to dive into reading. PBS has a great list of summer reading tips for babies, toddlers, and young kids, while Scholastic has more summer reading resources for kids of all ages.
6. Do Summer Interviews
Summer can be a great time to get to know more about the members of your community. Doing interviews is a lovely way for kids to tap into their curiosity while learning more about the people in their lives.
Consider having your child interview family or community members about what their lives were like when they were kids, about their jobs, their hopes and dreams for the community, etc. Encourage your child to make a book, poster, or even a podcast about what they’ve learned.
7. Prep for Next Year
My daughter is starting preschool in the fall, so a lot of our summer is being spent preparing her for this transition. We’ve read lots of books about preschool and often involve her dolls and stuffed animals in dramatic play about preschool.
No matter the age of your child, think about what you can do to give them a head start on the upcoming school year. If your child is entering preschool or kindergarten, grab an All About Letters Curiosity Pack to encourage learning the alphabet through inquiry (20% off with the code SUMMER).
8. Find Math in Everyday Life
Most students lose about two months of the math skills they’ve learned over the school year during the summer months. Yikes! To help prevent this, engage your child in learning math through real-world activities. Check out these tips for summer math learning (more here too!).
9. Learn with Digital Tools
As my daughter has gotten older, I’ve been turning more and more to Common Sense Media for information on educational digital tools. Check out their summer learning guide, which you can sort to find the best tools based on your child’s interests and age.
10. Turn Trips into Learning Experiences
If you’re headed out of town this summer, use your trip as an opportunity for your child to learn about a new place. Explore the history of your destination and get your child to think about how places change over time by asking questions like, “What do you think this place was like 100 years ago? What do you think it will be like in 100 years?”
Have a wonderful, learning-filled summer!