If you want to keep your kids’ brains engaged and keep them learning throughout the summer, check out these summer learning activities (that aren’t worksheets!).
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Did you know that, on average, students lose approximately two months of reading skills and up to three months of math skills over the summer?
Upon returning to school in the fall, teachers have to spend weeks of precious class time making up for that loss. (And then meet all kinds of crazy standards and benchmarks by the end of the year. But *ahem* I digress.)
Granted, other sources argue against that 2-3 month figure, saying that there’s no actual “loss” of skills. The skills simply get rusty over the long break. (Which still requires time to “resharpen.”)
Regardless of what you want to call it, though, I’m willing to bet if you polled all the teachers, the consensus would be that there’s some real “catching up” to be done after the long summer break.
Want to help your kids beat that “summer slide”? Want to make sure their brains aren’t totally checking out for ¼ of the year? Want to promote lifelong learning, even when they’re not in school?
The good news is, there are TONS of ways to keep their brains engaged and keep them learning throughout the summer.
Worksheets for Summer Learning – Yay or Nay?
And there are plenty of ways to do it that don’t include worksheets!
To be fair, I’m not totally against worksheets as a summer educational activity. My soon-to-be-kindergartner does several pages a week in his preschool workbook (though that’s mostly because he enjoys it).
But I do think they should be used very sparingly. Boring busywork can sap the fun out of summer and (worse) take the joy out of learning. Unless you have a child who loves to do worksheets for the sheer pleasure (I know a couple, so they do exist!), making summer learning feel like homework is not the best way to encourage it.
So, while we should keep our kids learning throughout the summer, there are plenty of educational activities besides worksheets to keep their brains sharp.
20 Summer Learning Activities Your Kids Will Love
Summer is a time for relaxed schedules, unstructured play, and lots of spontaneous fun. However, in order to combat the all-too-prevalent “summer learning loss,” we also want to keep our kids learning!
Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities to do that in and amongst all the summer fun. If you want to keep your kids’ brains engaged and keep them learning throughout the summer, check out these summer learning activities.
- READ, READ, READ!! – This is, hands-down, the best way to keep your kids’ brains working, keep them learning, and keep their reading skills sharp. Let them to read for pleasure, read together, and — the best way to raise readers — let them see you reading! The best part about books is you can read about literally every single academic subject, even math!
- Journal / write stories / free write from writing prompts – We go through LOTS of notebooks at our house, and we also love dry erase boards for younger ones!
- Conduct cool science experiments at home
- Listen to educational podcasts for kids
- Visit a museum or science center
- Build… anything! — Let them use their imaginations!
- Do arts & crafts – Here are some tips for stress-free art time with your kids!
- Research a topic they’re interested in – They could either do this on their own (be willing to listen attentively to all their findings!), or you could do it together. Related Post: 7 Ways to Encourage Your Kids’ Curiosity (And Why You’d Even Want To)
- Watch educational YouTube videos such as Smithsonian Channel, The Brain Scoop, or TED-Ed
- Do any of these activities/toys for kids who love to tinker
- Cook together – There’s tons of math in cooking!
- Attend educational programs such as at a local nature center, children’s museum, zoo, etc.
- Go to the library / attend library events – There are also some great ideas in this post for having your own summer reading program at home.
- Do puzzles – Jigsaw, word, logic, finger, etc.
- Play with Brain Quest Decks – I had several of these growing up, and I loved them! (Then again, I was what you might call a giant nerd.)
- Find educational opportunities in everyday activities
- Play board games – Scrabble, Bananagrams, Boggle, Rack-O, Yahtzee, Monopoly, Smath, Proof!, and Rapid Rumble, are all great games for summer learning!
- Teach life skills – I saw on Instagram that Emily Ley held a “How to Be a Person Camp” for her kids this summer, in which they worked on all kinds of life skills. I thought that was genius!
- Enroll your kids in academic-based summer camps
- Download fun games to your phone, tablet or computer – There’s a reason this one is last on my list. I recommend using it sparingly, since I think screen time should be very limited during the summer. But an educational game every now and then can be a fun way to keep your kids learning during the summer!
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- 10 Screen-Free Educational Activities
- Top 10 Things Teachers Want Parents to Know
- 50 Things for Kids to Do When They’re Bored
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