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Deep into summer, children thriving through play, free from the strictures of the academic year, full-time caregivers are starting to count down the days to the start of school. Concerns about the inevitable “summer backslide” might be creeping into some parents minds.
Here are a few suggestions to keep the learning going through the summer, without resorting to workbooks or learning apps. Keep the summertime fun going . . . just sneak in some surreptitious brain development.
1. GAME NIGHT
Enjoy a weekly game night as a family. Try games that promote critical thinking skills and strategy. Or perhaps a game that requires letter recognition, or basic mathematics. Card games, Scrabble Jr, Think-it Link-it, Backgammon, Jenga. A little healthy competition between kids and parents can motivate them to think ahead and recognize patterns.
2. CREATIVE CONSTRUCTION
Legos, Lincoln Logs, Magnatiles are all great options. But so are less expensive options such as wooden blocks or even your basic cardboard box. Provide them with paint, glue, scissors, tape, construction paper, popsicle sticks, and even toothpicks. Challenge your child to build a bridge or a tower and see what engineering skills they can develop.
3. MATH PRACTICE
Draw a series of targets in sidewalk chalk on your driveway. In each target write a number. Give your child a bucket of water and a couple of sponges. Have them throw their sponges and whatever numbers they land on can be combined in different equations. Or do the same with hula hoops and bean bags. Or put numbered targets on the wall and get out a nerf gun.
Perhaps you could go treasure hunting on the beach. Count up all the seashells you find and add them to how many your child found. Who found more and by how much? Real-life story problem solving right there.
4. LIBRARY TREASURE HUNT
Weekly visits to the library are one of the best ways to spend the summer. See if your child can find a book on dinosaurs, or dogs, or pirates, or whatever their current interests are. Or find a book with a certain letter in the title. Or a book of a certain color. Check out at least one new book each week. Sign them up for their very own library card and let them learn the responsibility of checking out and returning on time.
5. STAY ACTIVE
Active bodies mean active brains. The hottest days of summer can make us stay indoors, usually in front of a screen. You can beat the heat and stay active by hitting the pool, running through the sprinklers, or hiking in the mountains. Staying indoors is sometimes necessary, so throw on a Cosmic Kids Yoga video and let your kids move their bodies through a variety of poses as they get immersed in the storytelling. Or take them to an indoor jumping center or rock climbing wall. Air conditioning and physical exertion! Win-win.
Don’t forget that you are your child’s partner. Immerse yourself in these activities with them. Keep the connection alive. They’ll be back in school before you know it.