Nine ideas to keep your child learning this summer

Did you know the average child will lose one month of the knowledge gained during the school year over the summer? Here are nine ideas to help keep your child learning this summer.

Summer is a time for playing outside, sleeping in, camping out in the backyard and being with friends. But did you know the average school-aged child will lose one month of the knowledge they gained in the school year during the summer? Help your child to be ready to go back to school in the fall by adding a little learning time into their summer schedule. Here are nine fun activities for summer learning.

  1. Board Games Bonanza. With the advent of video games, many children have never played a simple board game. Visit a resale shop and look for Monopoly, Scrabble, Battleships, Clue and other old favorite board games. Try setting up a day-long tournament with the winner being excused from chores for a day of their choosing.
  2. Read, read, read! Help keep your child’s reading at grade level by reading at least 30 minutes per day. Because children become excited about reading when they see adults around them reading, parents and caregivers should also read during this 30 minutes. Consider reading aloud to your children from a chapter book the entire family will enjoy. You can also keep reading fun by taking the books outside, down to the beach or under a shady tree. Family trips to the library are a great way to find new reading materials.
  3. Head into your community. Most public libraries offer wonderful summer reading programs with incentives for accumulated reading time. Why not join a summer reading program at your public library? Group activities of crafts or performers are also often offered as part of the library experience.
  4. Look to your local and state parks. Parks and recreation programs offer free or low cost summer activities. Or you could pack a picnic lunch and brush up on science skills by learning about fish, bugs, plants and more. You can start exploring on the State Parks website.
  5. Chief Chef for the night. Cooking with children offers them a chance to practice math skills. Have your children prepare meals and snacks for one day or play restaurant for a night. Menu preparation and cost of meals are fun learning experiences.
  6.  Become a secret pal. Imagine how much pleasure your family can give lonely neighbors with secret surprises. A “thinking of you” card signed by a secret pal and hung with a ribbon on a door knob or a small package of homemade cookies can brighten an otherwise dreary day. If you don’t have any neighbors, you could ask staff at the local senior center who needs some TLC and make sure they receive a drawing or cheerful card during the summer. This activity will help children appreciate the value of giving without recognition by the recipient.
  7. Vacation/adventure time. Heading off to a new vacation spot? Have your child do research on where you are heading in advance. You can contact the local chamber of commerce or tourist bureau for free brochures or maps they can use. What is the area known for? Are there any special tourist attractions? Be sure to respect their research and follow through with at least one of their ideas.
  8. Make TV time learning time. There is no doubt children will spend part of the summer in front of the TV, computer or video game. Ask children to select educational programming or games focused on learning for at least 50 percent of this time.
  9. Creative play. Summer is for relaxing and having fun; don’t pack a child’s schedule so full of activities and lessons there is no time for creative fun. It is vital for children to have down time to relax, stretch their mental and physical muscles, make new friends and have new experiences.

These simple tips from Michigan State University Extension can help guide your child’s summer learning. If you’re looking to explore further learning resources, check out the Michigan 4-H website and upcoming events.

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