Ahhhhh summer. A break from the school year routine that parents both long for and worry about: the sweet silence of the alarm clock, lunch boxes that stay tucked away in cupboards and the concern that children might lose the academic gains they worked so hard for.
But just because school is out for the summer doesn’t mean the learning ends. Now is the perfect opportunity to make learning a little less formal and a lot more exploratory. Fear not–you don’t have to be a certified teacher to prevent the summer slide. Read on for 4 big tips and a list of fun activities that will keep your child’s skills fresh and won’t force you to visit Pinterest daily.
1. Read, Read, Read
Summer is the perfect time to melt into a good book. Even 20 minutes a day of reading, whether independently or together, can help keep children’s fluency and comprehension skills fresh. Make reading an inviting summer afternoon activity for your child: Hang a hammock in a shady spot or pick a few beach reads and spend a couple hours under an umbrella. When you model reading alongside your children, they are much more likely to pick up a book.
If your child needs a little extra motivation, our local Paso Robles library has a wonderful summer reading program called Read Beyond the Beaten Path. After signing up, children of all ages are encouraged to track their reading minutes, participate in reading challenges and win prizes. Librarians are also an incredible source of recommendations if you need a new series for the voracious reader in your life or a graphic novel to jumpstart a more hesitant reader.
2. Attend our Expanded Learning Opportunity Program
Want a little more structure for your child’s summer learning? Almond Acres is hosting a summer Expanded Learning Opportunity Program from July 5-29 with Program Director, Amy Brabenec. K-8 students are invited to attend to work on fundamental skills for an extra 4-9 hours. If you are interested, contact Amy Brabenec at firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. Keep it Low Key
Ditch the workbooks and flashcards. Learning happens all around us when we engage our senses, talk to people and get moving. Here are a few simple activities to sharpen thinking and develop creativity when your child says “I’m bored”:
- Get Outside
Move your body, use your senses, expand your world and get messy. Tune up your bike and ride on a trail. Swim. Hike. Play at a playground. Movement is essential to stimulating your brain!
- Keep a Journal
Encourage writing every day by keeping a journal of daily activities or a travel log of adventures. Include memory scraps like wristbands or ticket stubs and draw pictures of plants and animals you see on a hike. Even beginning writers can draw and add captions to their journals.
- Write Postcards
Bring addresses and stamps if you are traveling and have your child send postcards to friends, grandparents and teachers.
- Play Games
A deck of cards provides a million and one opportunities to practice math skills. Kids and adults, alike, love family games like Sequence and Zingo. If you have a middle schooler who loves strategy, you can’t go wrong with Exploding Kittens.
- Practice Money Skills
Put your child in charge of the money for an activity. Pay for ice cream in cash and calculate how much you are due back. Older kids can learn about the family budget by meal planning and shopping for groceries.
- Plan a Road Trip
Older kids can organize and plan a family trip. Incorporate map reading skills, elapsed time and calculating mileage and gas cost (ouch!) for a day trip. If a National Park is on your travel agenda, don’t forget that all 4th graders and their family have free admission and access to history, geology and geography lessons.
- Get Creative
Keep simple art supplies ready to spark creativity: paper, scissors, glue and paint have endless possibilities. Kids of all ages love the squishy novelty of Air Dry Clay. Your budding movie director can even turn those clay creations into an original Stop Motion Studio video. Beads and string are also super popular with all ages and help develop hand/eye coordination and concentration.
4. Target Specific Needs
There is generally no need to fill your child’s day with a full curriculum. But if you are aware of specific areas in which your child may need a little more attention, you can keep the summer vibe going by targeting skills in a daily, low-pressure practice session.
For example, if your kindergartener needs more practice with identifying the sounds of letters, you can spend 5-10 minutes a day working with Bob Books or an app that turns phonics into a game. If your 3rd grader wants to be quicker at multiplication facts, play a card game together each day to practice until he’s fluent. Kids can have the restful summer break they crave while still strengthening skills with a quick daily habit.
Almond Acres looks forward to welcoming your child back to school in September after a restful and rejuvenating summer break. Have fun together and come back to tell us all about it!
Almond Acres Charter Academy is a public, tuition-free K-8 school that employs credentialed teachers and administers state-mandated testing to provide families in northern SLO County an additional choice in public education. Located in Paso Robles in a newly built, state-of-the-art facility, AACA is open to all students from all communities. AACA’s mission is to help students succeed academically and socially by educating the whole child: heart, mind, body and soul. We grow great kids!