Almost all kids dread the day that summer ends and school starts, but none more than kids who tend to struggle in school. Challenges with schoolwork can have very little to do with your child’s intelligence— in fact it may be that their intelligence is not fueled or challenged or interested in typical school programs. Believe it or not, summer is actually a great time to address that.
If you think that preparing your child to resist the summer slide may not sound like a fun vacation activity, you simply might not be thinking about the right activities. Here are a few ideas to make summer and blast and get them set up for a successful academic year.
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Kids love watching TV, but it’s something that most parents try to limit— and for good reason. There is a lot of mental garbage on every channel. But there is also a lot of exciting education programming that your kids can enjoy, while also gaining foundational knowledge in biology, math, english, history, civics and more. From Sesame Street for your toddlers to National Geographic Kids for your adolescents, there are programs your kids will love and learn from.
Your child may have interests that are educational but aren’t emphasized in school. Summer camps that bolster these areas of study can keep your child excited about learning, while also engaged in some of the more traditional summer activities. They’ll get the outdoor experience common to camp, while also exploring interests like:
- Art and music
- Programming or computers, with specialized programs in robotics or coding
- Biology and other natural sciences, even exotic ones like marine science
- Foreign languages
- Geology, which can also tie into history
- Debate and theater
True, academic-themed camps may seem like an extension of the school year, but there are many good ones out there that emphasize learning without ever feeling like school. Plus, these camps can help your kids connect with other students like themselves, helping them build confidence and social skills for the coming academic year.
Educational Home Activities
Your kids have summer off, but that doesn’t mean they get to spend all day lounging on the couch. Take a page out of the Montessori teaching method book and give your kids the option of doing something fun and educational each day. Plan five activities for each week and let them work on them in the order they choose. You can partner up with other children’s parents so children can work through these activities together. And, the best part, they can be combined with some of the most beloved summer activities, like:
- Hiking with nature scavenger hunts that encourage kids to explore biology.
- Swimming and diving while learning about velocity, volume, molecular chemistry and conservation.
- Building outside with lessons on math, measurements, and carpentry skills.
If you have the space to spare, consider setting up an “activity room” for your children to use for arts and crafts projects. Or, create a relaxing spot where they can simply curl up with a good book. (Note: If you make significant changes to this space/room, keep track of these changes, as they could boost the value of your home if you choose to sell.)
Some of these activities will likely need to be supervised, so be sure to plan your own time accordingly. Show enthusiasm for these summer games to help your kids’ momentum stay strong.
Did you know that many kids lose 2-2 ½ months of reading and math skills over the summer? Or that teachers have to spend so much time helping students catch up on last year’s material that they have to rush through this year’s? These are all important realities to consider when you plan your child’s summer, and especially for a child experiencing difficulties learning in school. A summer break peppered with exciting and interesting educational activities will keep both their minds and bodies engaged.
Jenna Sherman of Parent Leaders