Encourage parents to encourage summer learning for their children with the eight tips below (scroll to the bottom of the page for a printable version). Parents play a key role in their children’s education at all times but especially during the summer months. Since it’s summer time, the goal is to review academic skills and have fun at the same time.
Scheduling time to draw, to act out stories, to play board games and to take time to wonder and ask questions with your children will help them form habits of doing something other than watching television.
8 Ways to Encourage Summer Learning
1. Plan ahead.
Schedule times for literacy during your week. Block in a time for skill building each day then fill it up with some of the fun activities below.
2. Take advantage of local libraries.
Libraries often have programs for children that encourage summer learning and usually have playgrounds close by.
Wear kids out at the playground first, then have a restful time in the library. To nurture a love of books, let the kids bring lots of books home even if they don’t read them all.
Supply a special basket or box for library books near a cozy reading nook so the books don’t get lost or damaged.
3. Read aloud to your children.
Take turns reading, and keep the reading level easy to create an enjoyable summer experience. Let your children create a signal, such as wiggling their baby finger, to indicate when they want help. Otherwise be quiet and let the kids figure out the words. Do not expect perfection or over correct.
Summer learning is about learning to love reading. Read the books your children choose even if they choose the same ones over and over. Instead of reading quietly to yourself, model reading to get information. Let your children hear you reading everything from TV guides to directional signs at the park.If they ask, let them do the reading.
Let your children see you reading quietly too. Schedule reading times when the TV is turned off and all family members are reading books of their choice.
4. Act out stories and make up stories
Reread favorite stories then introduce children to the fun of acting them out. Don’t worry about replicating the story exactly. Make simple picture book props, like a cut out, “Very, Hungry, Caterpillar,” and then act the stories out with them. Click here for a list of terrific picture books. Have everyone draw a character or thing and then take turns sequencing them to create a new story of your own.
5. Play board games
Playing board games with children is an excellent way for them to learn to share and take turns, to cooperate with each other, to increase logical thinking skills, and to review and learn basic math concepts, as well as letters, colors and shapes. Ideas for help choosing board games for 4 – 7 year olds.
6. Supply drawing materials
Provide a variety of paper, a stapler, and other art material, such as the watercolor crayons above, for children to make booklets, newspapers or other published items. Don’t put all art supplies out at once. Slowly introduce them throughout the summer or rotate them so children will have something new to stimulate their curiousity.
Make homemade clipboards with heavy cardboard and attach a pencil with string and tape. Hold paper securely with wide elastic bands.
Make lists with your kids as you walk around with the clipboards. 10 favorite bugs, Animals in the garden or things to take camping.
7. Go on an “I wonder walk”.
Take paper and pencil and go outside and take turns asking and recording five “I wonder why” questions.
I wonder where this creek starts; I wonder why this leaf is curled, I wonder why the sea anemones are not on this side of the tide pool.
Investigate one question at a time with your kids. Look for books to answer your questions at the library. Make mini answer booklets together.
8. Stop, listen and inquire
Encourage your children to think things through and have discussions. Parents are busy and the lists of errands and chores rarely grow shorter so schedule times to chat with your kids.
Plan activities where you work or play side by side and encourage conversation with open-ended questions. Hold back from explaining everything to your children and overloading them with your wisdom and insights. Celebrate their tiny accomplishments without pointing out all the bits that could be improved, waiting for a later time to reteach a skill.
Instead of asking questions that require one-word answers, try open-ended questions such as If you could change 2 things about , what would they be? That’s an interesting idea, how did you come up with that? What is your understanding of what happened to the…? In what ways do you think we could .?
If you want to encourage your kids to talk to you, don’t correct, lecture, or get upset with their answers. Try to understand their thinking processes. Repeat back what they tell you and generally they will talk more.
The ideas in the following book are simple and effective, help build self-esteem and keep communication open between parents and children.
For a printable version of the list below to distribute to parents, click here.