Research shows that children experience some learning loss when they do not take part in summer learning activities, according to the National Summer Learning Institute.
Although many parents and caregivers consistently cite summer as the most difficult time to ensure that their children have productive things to do to keep them engaged, I am happy to share that it does not have to be. There is a vast array of engaged learning opportunities that can take place in the home and community environments, many of which require a nominal fee or are completely FREE!
Here are a few ideas to jump start your very own “Summer of Learning” experience:
Health & Safety
As you walk through your community, create a game of “I-Spy the Safety Sign” with your child. Who will be the first to identify the various safety signs in your neighborhood? This free activity encourages healthy exercising, object recognition and verbal conversation.
Allow your child to help plan a family meal, then use your weekly trip to the grocery store to create a math adventure. As you pick up the items for the meal, ask your child to add the prices up. Don’t forget to subtract any coupons and extra savings. Once home, use the meal preparation time to teach measurement skills as you add the ingredients. This activity encourages family togetherness, enhancement of math skills and a tasty home-cooked meal.
Tell your child a personal story about a member of his or her family, then ask your child to create a book to accompany the story you have shared. Together, present the “storybook” to the family member. This activity requires only paper, a pencil and markers or crayons. Not only will your child learn something meaningful about his or her heritage but it will make a wonderful surprise for the family member that receives it.
Arts & Crafts
Use a plastic tablecloth to cover your kitchen table. Using a can of whipped cream, spray the whipped cream on the table and create edible table artwork. Warning: This yummy activity will create hours of laughter and fun!
The breezy days of summer loom ahead. As the godmother of an energetic eleven year old, I am constantly in search of creative strategies and activities to keep the learning going beyond the last day of school, like many parents, caregivers and childcare providers. Over the years, my search has revealed many of the “hidden jewels” our urban cities contain that will keep you and your child educationally engaged all summer long.
Did you know?
The summer months can be an excellent time for you to collaborate with your child’s school to fill in learning gaps or zoom ahead with enrichment activities at home and in the community. Now is the time to take action to keep your child’s brain stimulated, as well as the body moving over the summer months.
Just remember to keep it simple, fun and stimulating. The trick is to balance interactive fun with learning, and with all of the local community options available to you, it’s a task worth tackling!
Delcenia Jones is the Director of Urban Development at the National PTA and the proud godmother of an amazing 11 year old.
All statements and opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors, and not of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation or NBC News.