The summer slide is talked about often —it may sound like a great playground ride, but the reality for lots of children is that reading and maths achievement decline over the summer months and the effects can be long lasting. Children don’t just lose academic skills over the summer, physical fitness can also be impacted when too much time is spent in front of the tv and other forms of technology are over used. That’s not to say we never use technology, here in Perth we often have a movie in the afternoon when the weather is at its hottest, however, to earn a movie or technology time, the kid know they have to rock the day along with 1 form of physical exercise. If the kids do the 5 activities listed below along with exercise, they are then free to watch a movie , play on a video game etc as time allows.
Here are 10 ways to make learning fun over the summer.
We often have a wish list of places to go that we tick off on the holidays, some near in our local area and some day trips. Exploring takes organisation, research and thought just to begin with. Engaging your kids in where to go, why and how? sharpens so may life skills. When we plan a trip even if it is just to the local park the kids are involved in the process. We ask questions such as What are we going to take? Will we need food/drink? How will we get there? If it is a longer trip such as into the city or further afield we talk through the process and everybody has a job.
Use Public Transport
Plan a journey together using public transport timetables. Read the timetables together and work out how long it will take to walk or drive to the required stop and discuss how much the trip will cost. Plan the outing together and discuss arrangements. In the last holidays, Mr. J planned an outing to a local beach and found a cafe close by where we could eat. He was given a $50 budget for the whole trip. Real learning takes place when there is context. Using a real timetable empowers your kids to find out about their local area.
Go To The Library
A trip to your library is a great way to inspire reading and encourages your kids to pick up new books they may never have thought about. Choosing their own books is a great way to inspire a love of reading. Another great positive to the library is that it is completely free and once you have checked out – the books are yours for 3 weeks.
Bake A Cake And Cook Some More
Cooking and baking with kids can be time consuming and messy, however, it comes with a host of opportunities for learning. When baking we are using our maths and motor skills for the pouring, measuring, spreading, mixing, rolling and cutting etc. Following a recipe takes concentration and practise. A recipe introduces kids to a procedural text form and baking and cooking at home can be a fun way to follow instructions to gain a positive outcome. Check out 10 easy baking recipes here.
Aim for 30 minutes of reading a day. Reading is a cumulative skill, so for kids just learning – a break of even a couple of weeks can have negative consequences on comprehension and fluency. Reading together in the early years is a good way to build confidence foster connection and aid comprehension. A good trick for kids who struggle is you read a page I read a page- that way a book goes by quicker and on the pages you read, you can ask questions to gauge comprehension. Encouraging a love of reading for pleasure is key.
Whether it is a game of tag in the back garden or a nature walk, being outside in the fresh air is good for the soul. There are also plenty of educational activities such as bug hunts, ball skills, nature walks and raising awareness of the environment, gardening, home made obstacle courses and drawing or writing using side walk chalk. This is only a small. Check out these 99 screen free ideas we came up with!
Loose Parts Play
Loose parts play is not just for preschool -it only gets better with age! The best thing about loose parts play is that you really can use what you have around the house and garden to start off with. According to Play Australia – Loose Parts is a term that refers to any material that can be moved, carried, stacked, or altered. We always have a loose parts challenge going on – from rock sculptures to shell pictures, cardboard box sculptures and 10 ways to use a stick have been a few. We recently did some indoors loose parts play with nuts and bolts and created satellites and space stations. Inspiration came from a recent trip to our local science museum – Scitech
Check out this great list of loose parts from Play Australia here
There are so many easy science experiments to do at home. The top experiment the kids always like to do is making a volcano with baking soda and vinegar. There really is no recipe, a heap of bicarb in a plastic bottle followed by a glug of vinegar is all it takes to produce a frothy mountain. We also like to make gloop (and love The Tinker Lab recipe) and slime. Here it is with a host of art supplies to add to the fun! Check out our recipe here.
These activities never seem to get old and as the kids have got older, there are so many experiments they can now do on their own with minimal assistance from me. We love the activities from the links below.
Have A Chat
Chatting and being engaged with our kids is the best way to improve achievement and engagement in life and at school in the long term. Being involved and talking through their day, their hopes, dreams and difficulties is one of the best ways to connect.
Learn A New Skill
Learning a new skill at anytime is great for brain development, decreases boredom and aids creativity. Each summer we challenge the kids to have a go. It turns out if you look at the research that the learning that comes from a new skill stretches the brain and has the benefits of of improved working memory, better verbal intelligence and increased language skills. So the origami we have going on at the moment is not only relaxing but it is increasing our brain power!
Further reading about the research.