Keep your kids learning this summer

Fun and engaging ideas to support your children’s academic skills and keep the “summer slide” at bay!

Take art outside in the summer with sidewalk chalk! Photo credit: Pixabay.
Take art outside in the summer with sidewalk chalk! Photo credit: Pixabay.

The summer months are a fantastic time to build your children’s academic skills and keep them prepared and ready to learn come fall. Maintaining academic skills does not mean having to sit down with worksheets and missing the fun outside. In fact, summer is a great time to encourage your children to be outside, engaged with the world around them while still supporting their academic skills. Michigan State University Extension recommends these three strategies to support your children’s academic preparedness while still having fun this summer!

  • Read! Build daily reading time into your summer routine. Read outside on a hammock or a beach blanket. Take books to the park. Listen to audio books on the drive for your summer vacation. Choose a series of books to read together as a family. Sign up for the summer reading program at your local library. While you’re at the library, don’t forget to pick up books for the adults in the home as well! When children observe their parents read and show excitement about reading, they learn about the value you place on reading. Children who do not read at home during summer months show an average loss of two to three months of reading skills!
  • Explore! Summer offers a wealth of great opportunities to explore the environment around you with your children. Go on nature walks through your neighborhood. Create a scavenger hunt. Find different varieties of plants and trees. Explore Michigan’s vast network of state parks, trails and recreation areas. When children have opportunities to play outside they build their motor skills, burn off calories, are less likely to become obese and develop critical cognitive and social skills. Make sure your children have plenty of time to play outdoors this summer!
  • Create! With less scheduled activities, children have the opportunity to engage in more creative interests. Encourage children’s natural creativity by supplying them with a wide variety of open ended materials such as art supplies, drawing materials, paper for writing, etc. Take art outside in the summer and “paint” on the driveway with water and wet brushes, draw with sidewalk chalk or “write” in the sand at the beach. Many community education programs offer low cost summer art programs or day camps as well. Engagement in art activities promotes children’s fine motor skills, as well as their visual-spacial and cognitive skills. In fact, children who regularly engage in artistic pursuits are four times more likely to be recognized for their academic pursuits!

With a little forethought, you can easily imbed fun learning opportunities into your children’s summer months! Research shows that children loose an average of two to three months grade level equivalency in their mathematic skills during the summer and that children who are not reading at home show an equal loss of their reading skills. Keeping your children learning and engaged throughout the summer is the key to preventing this “summer slide” and ensuring your child is ready to succeed at school in the fall!

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