Research about how much children lose ground over the summer is well documented. Harris Cooper of Duke University notes, “Overall, children experience an average summer learning loss across reading and mathematics of about one month” (1996).
The thing is, though, kids don’t have to lose over the summer. In fact, you can encourage your child to have a summer of fun and learning with these five free and easy things to do. Try them out!
However, making kids complete workbooks, review flashcards, or attend extra classes all day long is almost just like making them repeat the school year, yet summer should be the time for adventures, laughter, and memories.
“When you think about it, we only have 18 summers with our kids”. So how might we balance the academic and non-academic activities for your child this summer?
How might we encourage them to keep on learning, and enjoy outdoor activities and socializing at the same time? How might we keep our children physically busy and mentally active during the long summer days?
Here’s what you can do to prevent that forgetting and ensure your kid keeps learning skills throughout their time off.
1. Keep studying fun
If your child isn’t used to keeping up with their studies during the summer, it’s important to start this year off with something they’re actually going to enjoy doing.
That way they’ll have fun learning new skills and won’t feel like their just dreading another round of homework that needs to be done every night.
When you introduce your child to their summer school curriculum, make sure you focus on topics they like and subjects that they enjoy and you’ll be able to keep their brain engaged in the task at hand.
2. Take a break from TV
The average American child spends close to 30 hours per week in front of the TV, which is already awful enough when you consider how much time kids spend doing this during school too (almost 23 hours per week).
The fact is, your kid will learn more if they’re not watching TV for six weeks than they would if you forced them to watch it every day for three months.
When your kid isn’t playing outside or engaged in other activities that teach skills and help them grow as people, then all that’s left filling up their schedule is brainless entertainment like television shows and video games. This is not something you want occupying your child’s brain for multiple hours a day.
3. Log on and get online
While TV is the enemy of learning, there are some great educational websites that can be helpful when it comes to introducing new topics over the summer.
Help your kid set up a user account at Discovery Education, PBS Kids or National Geographic and allow them to explore each site free of any distractions while they try and learn more about subjects they love or struggle with in general education classes.
4. Get physical and exercise
Exercising for at least 30 minutes every day will help ensure your kids aren’t feeling sluggish even while spending so much time inside their own minds during the summer months.
And getting up and moving around gets their whole body engaged in the process of keeping up their learning as well as making sure they stay healthy and active.
It doesn’t matter if your kid just wants to head outside and play tag with the neighborhood kids or go for a jog around the block, as long as they’re getting their blood flowing and physical activity into their daily schedule then all the better for them!
5. Set aside time every day
The average American child watches almost 32 hours of TV every week, which is more than half an entire day spent sitting down and doing nothing other than watching entertainment flicker on a television screen.
And while it may feel like your child is doing something purposeful if they’ve got a big stack of books by their bed that they’re supposed to be reading every night, the truth is that there’s almost no time dedicated to actually learning new skills and studying certain topics all summer long.
That’s why it’s important to make sure your kids dedicate a portion of their day this summer to learning something new.
Whether they’ve been struggling with a subject in general education classes or not, you need to set aside some time throughout the entire six-week stretch for them to engage with their studies and really immerse themselves in constructive tasks that help sharpen their mind and keep them learning.
You can even schedule a daily appointment time after breakfast where your kid sits down at their desk and studies whatever they want each day before engaging in other activities later on, but setting aside even just an hour per day makes a world of a difference for kids who struggle to stay focused and engaged throughout the entire summer.
6. Consider hiring a tutor
If your kid is struggling with certain subjects in particular, you might consider hiring a tutor from one of those websites we mentioned earlier to help them really get on track as soon as possible.
While taking an extra course or signing up for summer school can be helpful too, what matters most is that your child feels comfortable learning whatever it is they know they need to learn about over the next few months so that they don’t fall behind when classes resume again in September.
But know this: if you hire a tutor but still aren’t seeing any progress with your kid’s grades after six weeks , then you should take them to see a doctor.
7. Set up some rewards for kids to work towards
Rewards don’t have to be materialistic things that cost money or are too complicated. Sometimes all you need is a simple goal that your kid can aim for, whether it’s reading three chapters in one book, watching half an episode of their favorite TV show before turning on the Xbox 360, or drawing out a map of New York City after studying its geography .
By giving them something fun to look forward to completing each day while also rewarding them with positive feedback whenever they manage to accomplish something new, your kids will feel motivated and inspired enough to keep learning throughout the entire summer just because they want to indulge themselves with the kind of activities they love best at the end of each day.
8. Take care of yourself too!
It’s no secret that raising their own kids is a lot of work and takes up a whole lot of time, but this summer it’s important to make sure you take care of yourself as much as you take care of your kids .
Keeping up with the demands and responsibilities of everyday life — cooking dinner at night, cleaning the house, taking out the trash— can take such a toll on us parents whenever we’re feeling stressed out or exhausted that we forget how important it is to slow down and relax every now and then.
After all , kids look up to their parents for guidance in everything they do; if they see you running like crazy trying to get everything done before the day ends, then they’re going to mimic that behavior and act just like you when they get older.
You need to find some time for yourself over the next six weeks so that you can recharge your batteries and relax while also making sure your kids know how important it is to slow down too every now and then.
If possible, try to set aside an hour or two in the middle of each day where you can sit down with them and watch some TV without having to be “on” all the time.
Whether you cuddle up on the couch together with a blanket while watching one of their favorite shows or go out into nature for a hike, setting aside that little bit of alone time for both of you will make such a world of a difference in your lives, and their lives as well.