Summer Learning Activities for Kids

At its worst, a summer without reading and learning can cost a full third of a school year. And summer isn’t the only time: Even long weekends and holiday breaks can lead to a slip in academic progress for some children.

Here’s the bright side! No one can make a bigger difference in your kids’ lives than you! By encouraging their natural curiosity, you can keep your children’s skills sharp and have fun as a family at the same time. We asked top teachers – many of whom are parents themselves – for their ideas, suggestions, and advice on how parents can make at-home learning a part of daily life.

This list of summer learning activities will keep kids learning all summer long – and they won’t even know it!

Hit the Library

The logical place to start with fun at-home learning projects is at your local library. Libraries typically offer free summer reading programs for kids throughout the year. (Think read aloud, crafts, plays, and movie nights.) But during school breaks, they step it up even more.

Here’s how it works: Encourage your child to choose a small stack of books. It could be mysteries, graphic novels or space adventures – whatever he wants. Also, remember that’s it’s important to engage with your child about their reading. Kim points out that even with books, kids with little encouragement and adult interaction are far less likely to improve their reading skills.

Notice the Math All Around You

Studies show that children are even more likely to lose math skills than reading skills over school breaks. That’s because even when families make time for reading, they may not make time for math. Doing math doesn’t mean you have to get out the workbooks. There are many ways to engage your kid in fun at-home math activities. For example:

Cook with your kids. Measuring counts as math – see, you are good at math! – and simple recipes can be halved or doubled, with younger kids working the math on whole numbers and older ones on the fractions.

Stay inside. On rainy days, you can encourage your kids to check out one of these teacher-recommended (and free) sites for practicing math. Most turn math into a fun game—way better than an afternoon of TV.

Go Outside

It’s always great to get the family outdoors—and you can even do a little science at the same time! Early morning hours and cool evenings are good bird and reptile watching times. And don’t be afraid to let your kids get down and dirty: Recent studies have shown that playing in the dirt is actually a healthy way to boost the immune system.

Here are great ways to get outside with at-home learning.

  • Visit a nature preserve! Invest in an inexpensive pair of binoculars and a sketchbook. Walk around a nature preserve, observe, and record.
  • Get cultured at zoos and museums. Oak Grove Classical Academy’s academic dean Celeste Green suggests hitting the dollar store for spiral notebooks in different colors. Supply each child with a notebook and pencil and explore even a familiar museum looking only for and recording objects the color of the notebook. (Later the list can even be used as material for a creative dramatic presentation or short story!)

Make Things

Summer is the logical time to take all the arts and crafts projects that involve water, sand, glitter, paints and any gooey substance outdoors where cleanup can involve a garden hose.

Ease into Back to School

Any teacher will tell you that valuable fall class hours are spent re-teaching materials or at least reminding students of academic and organizational skills. How can parents use at-home learning in the summer months to ease the transition back into a school schedule?

Should you get next year’s book list and have your kid start reading? That could be counterproductive, of it feels like summer homework. And some educators believe it could make students miss out on the importance of shared discovery in the classroom. From online learning to mental health during COVID, get back-to-school resources for parents and teachers to support kids who learn and think differently.

As parents, we can make the most of our kids’ breaks from school. Keep them mentally sharp with varied at-home learning activities, and they’ll be ahead of the game when school is back in session.

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