Most parents know that their children suffer a learning deficit over the summer months, but we bet you’d be surprised to learn just how significant this loss can be. A recent five-year study considering students in grades two through nine found that students lost 25 to 30 percent of the learning they’d acquired over the school year. Educational activities are important in the summer months.
Of course, the way to remedy this learning loss is to make sure your kids continue to learn over the summer. Here are seven ways to keep them learning this summer—even if they still insist you take them to the pool!
For young students:
- Encourage young students to improve their STEM skills by asking them to make a windsock kite. Kids can experiment by adding decorations like streamers and beads, but what decorations will make the kite stop flying?
- Read books with your young children, and then connect reading to the activities described in the book. For example, you could read Laura Ingalls Wilder and take your kids on a trip to a farm. Or you could read Molly Bang’s classic The Paper Crane and learn with your young children how to fold origami.
- Help your child get to know your area, and science, by encouraging them to start a rock collection. Even if the collection isn’t fancy, it can kickstart an interest in geology, especially if you label and classify your rocks based on this guide from the U.S. Geological Survey.
For middle school students:
- Build your child’s creativity and curiosity by asking her to document your family’s summer travel. Suggest that she learn the history of the city you’re visiting, along with documenting the places that you frequent. You may also suggest she take pictures. Once the trip is over, ask her to compile the materials into whatever form she likes, be it a physical scrapbook or an online blog.
- Spend an afternoon on a light walk with your middle school children. Light walks, designed by Bob Miller, were created to teach kids about the properties of light and the sun. Today, though, these walks serve an additional purpose: getting your children away from their devices and into the sun. Giving your children an appreciation for nature is an important piece of summertime learning.
For high schoolers:
- Teach your older children about money—and help them put their math skills into practical context—by helping them invest their money in the stock market or an IRA. Working with teens to invest in, and then monitor, an interesting stock can help them builda healthy financial future and understand the benefits of managing their money well. It can also give you a clear answer to the constant question, “When am I ever going to use math in real life?”
- Encourage your teen to find a job or regularly volunteer. Not only will these activities give teens a better idea about what they might want to do (or not want to do), they will also help them better contextualize how the learning they’re doing in school could be applied to the real world.
With the possibility that your child will incur summer learning deficits, it’s important not to look at your child’s summer break as only a vacation. Instead, build in some exciting educational activities to help your child view learning in a creative, exciting way.
Here are more ideas on making learning and curriculum relevant throughout the year.