Beat the Summer Slump and Help Your Little Learner Continue to GROW! The FUN WAY!

The school summer slump can take many shapes and forms.  Additionally, maintaining skills in all subjects doesn’t have to mean pulling out a worksheet or purchasing a computer program for their grade level.  JUST SAY NO!  There are so many different ways to incorporate a little bit (just a little) of study skills in your daily routines to maintain and keep those creative juices flowing. 

While school is not in session, reading skills, and routines are essential to setting your child up for success for the next year.  Here are a few ideas many parents have shared with me and a few I have discovered through loving life with my two children.

Allow children to help prepare meals.  I know what you are thinking, yeah right!  It took me a while to get used to my kids helping with dinner; however, it does get easier.  They learn a routine to prepare the table (children as early as 3 can help with this), prepare drinks, prepare salads, cooking dinner and cleaning up afterwards.  Some parents overlook these details because let’s face it, we can do it quicker and more efficiently.  Give them some time they need to be taught to be successful in this area.  Cooking is so amazing to help support reading informational text and incorporating math skills.  My second grade child works with measuring cups as she deciphers the difference between ½ teaspoon and ½ cup of an ingredient.  It is amazing how involved boys and girls can get when allowed to help in the kitchen.  Cupcakes are my favorite!  Once kids get involved in helping cook, they can read through cook books and create shopping lists for dinners they would like to make.  I’m sure if you have a picky eater, they might be more inclined to eat a dinner they investigated and helped to prepare. 

 As far as math skills, you would be surprised how far practicing math facts will go to helping your child in math class next year.  There are multiple apps for different devices as well as math drill computer games.  If you don’t have computer access, traditional flash cards go a long way and they can be found in every Dollar Store in the school department. Focus on addition and subtraction facts for lower grades and multiplication and division facts for third grade and above. These skills are the foundation of all word problems and everyday common sense math problems. 

Get them a watch! Sure, find a $5.00 watch that is water resistant and take your watch off.  Ouch!  This is a killer for me.  I realized I look at my watch every couple minutes.  It’s great for explaining length of time for kids.  For example, “you have 10 minutes to straighten up your room,”  “10 minutes till we leave for the grocery store,” or “at 3:00 we’ll leave for the park.”  Teach students to manage their time wisely.  Also, if your child is really into TV shows, video games, and computer time, a watch is a great way to help them manage their own time wisely. 

Summer is a great time to play outdoors and explore!  Talking and sharing stories with older family members and helping them do small chores during the day can be extremely beneficial. These activities are wonderful for listening and comprehension skills as well as developing character by helping family members.  I can think back to my own childhood as I listened to my Great Grandmother tell stories and I fought relentlessly not to wiggle in my seat.  I appreciate those stories now and recollect those stories even now to my own children.  Kids love to hear stories.  Have them write about their own summer and share it with an elderly person. Most people that have the time to spare enjoy listening to children share stories.  This type of verbal interaction really develops important life skills.  Do you know any adults that can’t listen to a conversation without butting in? (Giggle)

Another great adventure, if you have the opportunity to explore outside the house this summer, is museums and aquariums. Usually these are low cost and provide children with an abundance of information of local history and native species (plants and animals).  One of my children’s favorite sights in museums and aquariums are the simulations and hands on experiences.  My girls can stay in the Children’s Museum for the entire day.  This kind of creative play gets overlooked, but is so essential in our daily life.  Building, problem solving, and communication are crucial attributes to foster at a young age.  The Fort Fisher Aquarium is another favorite.  We take a routine trip there almost monthly.  We always learn new information and speak with different volunteers during each of our outings. 

Encourage kids to keep a nature journal when they go on their adventures.  Many kids love art and science.  Allow them to research through books or digital resources about different local species of plants and animals.  This is a sure-fire way to encourage them to maintain reading and writing skills.

Furthermore, local and school Libraries are often overlooked.  Who doesn’t love a free book to borrow?  Many of these libraries also have reading programs and/or themes to further inspire your young learner.

Let’s not forget the importance of fitness and arts!  There are multiple organizations that provide summer programs for sports and fitness.  These not only help children to make healthy life style changes but keeps them communicating with children their age and pushing their limits.  Additionally, art programs inspire creativity and allow children to continue growing on their level.  There are paint programs, pottery, building, design, creating web-pages, blogs, and more to foster learning for the creative side of children. 

Building routines not only helps you out as a parent, but cultivates children to gradually be responsible for their own life and routines.  Waking up and brushing their teeth automatically.  Putting clothes in appropriate places when dirty, clean, or wet.  Helping with regular household chores.  No, this isn’t child slavery; it is helping the family be able to spend more time together when mom or dad isn’t continually cleaning.  Children can take out the trash, help clear the table, load and unload the dishwasher, fold towels, put away clothes, sweep or run the vacuum.  Kids love the chance to have more responsibility.

Some kids might be apprehensive to do anything that resembles school work.  This opens a great opportunity to remind them of the success they have had over the past years in school and how crucial it is to maintain their academic skills for the upcoming school year.  Much of their enthusiasm begins with the adults around them.  It might take a little prep work and energy to get them interested; however, once they get going in a direction they love, they are sure to keep the learning juices flowing.

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