2011-06-09 / Family

Keep Kids’ Minds Sharp Over Summer Vacation

There’s nothing kids look forward to more than summer vacation. But summer can also be a prime time for the summer slide – when grade school students forget some of the reading and math skills they learned during the school year, according to the National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL).

That learning gap forces teachers to play catch-up when school starts again in the fall.

“Parents can play critical roles in ensuring children maintain their academic skills in reading and other subjects over the summer,” says Emily Kirkpatrick, vice president of NCFL. “The key is to associate learning with fun activities.”

Here are some ideas to make learning fun this summer:

Encourage Bright Spots: Parents and students often associate the summer with remedial classes. But encouraging your children’s interests and strengths is a great way to associate fun with learning. Try enrolling them in classes or camps that focus on their strengths and let them develop lifelong hobbies that are fun and good for them.

Be Creative: A quick search online should yield a lot of great suggestions for creative, fun learning activities both online and off. For example, the nonprofit website Wonderopolis.org encourages children and parents to explore the things they wonder about with daily content, like “Why Do You Get Ice Cream Headaches?” or “How Can You Be a Human Compass?”

You and your children can also nominate your own “Wonder of the Day” on Wonderopolis.org by submitting your own curious question. You can even create your own video and include the link to it on YouTube or Vimeo in your submission.

Let Them Run Wild – In the library: Make a big deal out of getting your children their own library cards. Then make frequent trips where kids can pick out anything they want to read that is ageappropriate. Experts say reading four or five books over a summer will maintain reading skills, so long as the selections are challenging enough.

Make Travel Fun: Educational games and workbooks can make long trips fun. But you can also brainstorm new and exciting things to do once you arrive at your destination. For example, a visit to grandparents can prompt a family genealogy project. Or learn how to send a message in a bottle at Wonderopolis.org and give your kids an experience they’ll never forget.

Plan Learning Adventures: Take excursions to museums, national parks, zoos or aquariums. Or try a hike that focuses on birds, plants or any special theme. Tie a book or educational program to the adventure (either before or after), so your child will connect real life to learning. Alternatively, you can expose a child to a new piece of music before a concert the whole family can enjoy.

For more ideas to keep your children learning this summer, visit www.Wonderopolis.org.

By making learning fun, you can keep your kids ahead of the curve come fall.

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