Summertime is a great opportunity for children to relax, but they also need to stay sharp mentally. Use these fun activities to help kids continue learning over summer vacation without sacrificing their chance to have a good time.
Making the Summer Fun
Summer vacation is an important time during which children can get away from the classroom and mentally recharge. Unfortunately, too much time off can lead to the summer slide, a phenomenon wherein students take a developmental step backwards because they don't spend enough time learning during the summer.
To avoid the summer slide and encourage academic engagement and growth, check out the following gardening, reading, science, and other activities.
1. Farm-to-Table Gardening
Getting outside is synonymous with summer, but if you're looking to stay close to home, working on a backyard garden is one way to keep kids engaged and entertained. Simple gardening can be a bit of cliche, so think of ways to make the project a little more interesting.
For example, turn your child's backyard garden into an economics lesson by creating a ''farm-to-table'' project, where children eat what they make and learn about how crops move from the field to their dinner plate.
Gardening promotes a wide variety of skills that are useful in the classroom and beyond: patience, organization, time management, responsibility, and discipline, to name just a few. You can also slip in a quick biology lesson on something like transgenic organisms.
2. Book Clubs
If you're looking for indoor activities, a summer reading list is the perfect place to start.
Check with your local library and see if they have any sort of summer program that offers incentives and rewards for children who read a certain number of books. If your child is independent or is not a fan of reading lists, make your own!
For additional fun, try to recruit as many other young readers as possible. Form your own little book club, and host weekly discussions with the group to promote a more in-depth analysis of, and engagement with, literature.
3. Architecture & Agriculture Field Trips
Not just for school anymore, field trips are an effective way to have fun and learn at the same time. The pleasant summer weather also provides children with the opportunity to explore places that might not be available during the winter.
Given the looser constraints of summer, take advantage of its inherent freedom and get more ambitious with your outings. Instead of a simple hike through the woods, take a walking tour of a nearby historical site or district and teach your child about local architecture. If you live in a rural area, consider taking a tour of a nearby farm and showing your child how various agricultural tools work. (You might even be able to incorporate this into your ''Farm-to-Table'' project from the first activity!)
4. Science Projects
While it's important to keep all of your child's skills sharp during the summer months, pay particular attention to his or her STEM skills, such as those related to science and math. Fortunately, there's no need to design your own curriculum, as others have already done that!
Plenty of companies like Roominate, Genius Box, and Green Kid Crafts (to name just a few) offer ready-made projects designed to enhance children's science skills. Most of these companies use a subscription model, meaning you'll get a new box full of fun activities every month.
5. International Cooking
Similar to gardening, cooking teaches important life skills like organization, concentration, and multi-tasking. For younger children, it's also a fun way for them to acquire basic math and science skills as they learn how to measure ingredients and observe chemical reactions in real time (like baking bread, for example).
To make things more fun, find ways to incorporate exotic and international foods into the menu. For Canada Day (July 1), try whipping up some poutine (or something a little more appealing for picky eaters). For Bastille Day on July 14, experiment with French pastry baking.
Another effective way to keep children learning involves online learning. Study.com has an extensive library of courses for both elementary and middle school students that feature interactive quizzes, engaging videos, and other learning tools that make it fun to learn.