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Summer is a great time to relax and not worry about the pressures of school but you also don’t want your children to lose ground on what they have learned throughout the school year.  To preserve learning outcomes and prevent the ‘summer slide’ there are many ways to keep things playful and stress-free while traveling on the road with your children or while staying at home. Below are perfect opportunities for bonding with your child and to casually squeeze in summer learning.

Start a family book club.   Reading is one of the most important skills to maintain and develop. Family member’s take turns reading the same book and then meeting to discuss what they liked and did not like. This is a great way to create family bonding time and enhance your child’s critical thinking skills. Be sure to stay up to date with the activities at your local library, which provides fun and sociable learning opportunities.

Let them be your travel agents. Are you going away this summer? If so, put your children in charge of planning at least one aspect of the trip. Give them maps, brochures and guides, and see how they use their skills to figure out a plan. Let them help you search for lodging within your budget and in the area you want to stay. Together, you can learn about nearby attractions and plan your visit accordingly. The entire process not only builds confidence, but serves as a finance, geography, history and social studies lesson all wrapped in one.

Make the most out of ‘carschooling.’ I remember traveling with cookie sheets and a plastic tote filled with goodies for my children. Easily held on a lap, a cookie sheet can be used as a surface for playing magnetic games like tic tac toe, playing word games like Mad Libs, and glow-in-the-dark toys (when traveling at night). It’s an inexpensive alternative to a car-seat lap desk, and when it’s not in use, it fits in the back pocket of the seat. Give each child their own notebook and a few pages of stickers and let them make their own creations.

Have a scavenger hunt at the museum. One way to turn a visit to the museum into a fun and educational experience is to make it a scavenger hunt. If you’re going to an art museum, your list can include things you might see in paintings or sculptures from a certain country. If it’s a natural history museum, you can include fossils and animals on your list.

Make something. While there are plenty of kits out there to promote STEM learning skills, you can encourage your children to use their creativity and knowledge to build projects from common household materials. Some classic examples of this would be making a raft out of empty milk cartons or plastic bottles, a homemade volcano using vinegar and baking soda or a homemade electromagnet.

Become a collector. A great way for children to get hands-on knowledge of the natural world is for them to build a collection while discovering the outdoors. Rocks, plants, bugs – these are the things that excite a young mind. Search for different kinds of leaves to press at home, then work with your children to identify their types.

Put simply, kids need to keep their wheels turning.  Without ongoing opportunities to learn and practice essential skills, kids fall behind on measures of academic achievement over the summer months.

Summer presents an untapped opportunity – a time of year when youth and families seek enriching summertime experiences and these opportunities help ensure summer learning gain rather than loss.

 

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