by Kimberly Blaker
Education experts have known for some time that kids who don’t go to school year ’round experience summer learning loss. Still, most schools and districts have yet to extend the school year in light of this information.
Statistics on summer learning loss vary depending on the study. But those studies most commonly cited have found kids lose, on average, 2.6 months of math and 2 months of reading skills over the summer. Other studies have found varying results, as noted in “Summer learning loss: What is it, and what can we do about it?” by David M. Quinn and Morgan Polikoff. But most notably, those in lower-income families tend to have more significant learning loss during the summer than kids from higher-income families. Experts believe this is primarily attributed to the lack of resources available to lower-income families and in more impoverished communities.
The good news, however, is there are ways to reduce your child’s summer learning loss. You can help your kids by providing them plenty of educational and enrichment opportunities throughout the summer months ahead. The following fun activities will keep your kids’ brains active. These activities will also help kids retain what they learned throughout the school year or even expand upon it.
- Keep ’em reading. Public libraries offer an array of summer programs for kids. Take your kids to the library often for special programs. Also, have them bring home a selection of books to read during the summer.
- Play word, money, number, and logic games. Look for board, video, and computer games, particularly those that have won educational awards. Also, search online for ideas for boardless games that don’t require materials. Another idea is to turn it into an art activity. Have your kids create their own board game to play.
- Incorporate learning into your travel. Before you go on your family vacation, do some advance research. Look for science centers, history museums, and historical sites to build into your trip. Then have your kids join you in mapping out the trip. This will help keep geography fresh in their minds while also learning map skills.
- Summer journaling. Give your kid a journal to write in. It can be fancy or just a spiral notebook. If your child hasn’t kept a journal before, suggest they spend 20 minutes writing in it every night about their day’s adventures and activities. Let your kid know it’s their private journal and promise not to read it unless they choose to share it with you. This might encourage your child to invest more time and thought into their journaling.
- Messy science. If there’s anything kids love, it’s making messes. So summer is the perfect time for messy science experiments they can do outdoors. Pick up a kids’ science experiment book from your library. Then have your child read through and choose some experiments to do. Your child will learn a lot just from reading about the different experiments. Then they’ll have a blast pulling them off.
- Summer camp. Look for a summer camp that has a strong emphasis on learning activities. It could be one that offers an array of activities that support a variety of subjects. There are also many summer camps with a particular focus. Your child could choose one in an area they excel and have a specific interest in. Or you could help your child select one in an area of difficulty that’ll help your child better grasp a particular subject.
- Baking and cooking. This helps kids in both math and science. Have your kids choose a recipe they’d like to make. But have them make half a batch, or triple the batch. This will require them to calculate the measurements.
- Form a neighborhood or friends book club. This can be done in a couple of different ways, depending on the age of your kids. Kids of similar ages can choose one book each week for everyone to read. Then they can meet to talk about the book they read. They can discuss the plot and characters, what they liked about it, didn’t like, and their take away from it. Another type of book club, especially for younger kids, will require more parent involvement. Create a logging system so each child can keep a record of the books they’ve read. At the end of the summer, hold a pizza party for all the participants. Create homemade certificates and give out inexpensive prizes to all the participants. Then honor the winner with a special award.
- Workbooks or puzzle books. Give your child a workbook for the grade level your he or she just finished. Have your child work on it throughout the summer to keep what they learned fresh in their mind. Another fun option is puzzle books available in most subject areas. There are mathematical, logic, word search, crossword puzzle books, and more.