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15 Ideas for Keeping the Learning Fun in the Summertime

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Imagine your child’s teacher sitting you down during conferences and telling you that your kiddo is about to lose 2 months in his reading ability, and 2.6 months of math skills—as scheduled.

That’d be a jagged little pill to swallow.

Let me then, as your new BFF blogger break the news to you: The average kiddo who scampers off to summer break loses 2 months in reading ability and 2.6 months in math skills. Annually. It is scientifically known as Summer Brain Drain.

Research shows it is rampant in our schools. It’s a plague we cannot afford to ignore. Here is a little comparison of statistics to chew on; 11 million individuals are infected with strep throat every year, 44 million adults do not read well enough to read a simple story to a child.

This explains why nearly every curriculum, school, and teacher begins the school year with weeks (if not months) of reviewing last year’s material.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Studies show that by using that noodle a little bit every summer day doing math and reading can have extraordinary effects. Not only does the average kiddo using this strategy not lose learning—many kids experience a summer knowledge growth spurt!

But there is a catch: Summer learning has to be fun to be most effective. Fear not, super-moms and uber-dads. Here are 15 tips to have fun while learning this summer:

1. Join a summer reading program at your local library.
2. Have a lemonade stand. Real lemonade for extra points. Help your kiddo calculate how much needs to be sold to break even and make a profit. Work a mini-marketing plan.
3. Phonetic hop-scotch. Chalk out an alphabet grid on the pavement or driveway, large enough for hop-scotching. Use pre-made spelling cards, or design your own, and hop them out. Touch a line, or misspell the word and it is the next players turn.
4. Eat your math. Use skittles for counting, Hershey bar for fractions, have a massive bake-out while your kiddo measures counts and then of course subtracts cookies as they are devoured.
5. Tell stories under the stars. Grab a flashlight, a friend, and a really good tale. Then head outside for the evening. Tent optional.
6. Meet the masters in this exciting online art program.
7. Go to the symphony or a musical performance. Read up on the composer and create a podcast with what you learn.
8. Create a Summer Olympics lap-book. This can really cover almost every subject your kids learn when school is “on.” How wonderfully sneaky!
9. Learn local history. Call your city or tourist information and set up tours.
10. Make a time capsule. Put in cool stuff that is relevant with today. Include today’s newspaper and a letter from you to the future.
11. Go to your farmer’s market. There is a world of learning to be had
12. Create your own treasure map. Hide a prize and mark it with an x. If the kids are doing the burying of treasure, just make sure they’re not hiding something you really must find. Like your car keys. Or Johnny.
13. Do your own science experiments. Your kids will love Steve Spangler’s 365 Simple Science Experiments Book or Naked Eggs and Flying Potatoes.
14. Attend the Colorado Chautauqua Association’s Theatre-Hikes Colorado, a fun-filled, family-friendly afternoon hike in the woods coupled with a Alice in Wonderland.
15. Tour de Library. Find out how far can your library card take you? I learned recently that a nearby library district could use my local library card to check out items. Map out area libraries you have not yet visited and make it an outing. Look up their websites for cool free events, kids programs, and if they may have a coffee shop or café as part of their outfit. Don’t forget to return the items borrowed, which of course gives you another excuse to visit the library again.

How do you keep learning fun in the summertime?

  Karin Piper is the author of Charter Schools: The Ultimate Handbook for Parents.

Additional sources: National Adult Literacy Survey (1992) NCED, U.S. Department of Education

Mile High Mamas
Author: Mile High Mamas

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  • comment avatar Amber Johnson May 31, 2011

    These are great ideas. Something else I’d add: the wonderful outdoor programs at the various nature centers. Lookout Mountain is a favorite.

  • comment avatar Amber Johnson May 31, 2011

    Also, I plan to carve out a chunk of time every day to dedicate to reading.

  • comment avatar Kristin May 31, 2011

    Don’t forget to keep those creative juices flowing.

  • comment avatar Emily May 31, 2011

    Great list of suggestions. Thanks. Another suggestion is to play board games which helps develop math and critical thinking skills.

  • comment avatar Bonnie June 2, 2011

    I am so inspired by this!!! We’re doing a “Park Tour” of as many parks as we can in the metro area and I was thinking of writing a review of each but I think I’m gonna have the kids write the review and draw pictures.

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