School’s out for summer! Cutting loose during vacation comes easily to kids, but it’s also important to ensure they keep busy with activities that will help them continue learning throughout their break from the classroom. We called on Target Inner Circle members Amy Mascott of Teach Mama and We Teach and Kara Fleck of Simple Kids to share their five best ideas for family activities that help prevent the “Summer Slide.”
It’s the summertime, and our kids are ending the year with their heads and hearts full of knowledge.
We want our children to enjoy summer days of swimming, sports and relaxation and summer nights of fireflies, campfires and fireworks. We don’t, however, want them to lose all of the progress they have made over the school year to the dreaded “Summer Slide.” Studies have concluded that when they don’t engage in educational activities during vacation, kids can be set back by up to three months in their math and reading skills.
Here are ten creative and exciting ways to keep kids of all ages learning all summer long!
Tips from Kara
1. Take a nature walk with your five senses. Head outdoors, and take a walk through your neighborhood or local park. Take note of what you SEE, what you HEAR, what you SMELL and how the air and the sun FEEL on your skin. Be sure to look up at the sky, look down at the ground. Discuss with your kids the changes they have observed in the environment as you revisit your route throughout the summer.
2. Practice handwriting and spelling in unexpected ways. Have your children help you around the house, and sneak in some handwriting and spelling practice by making grocery lists, planning the lunch menu and writing notes to Grandma and Grandpa. Have them seek out pen pals or start a journal documenting their summer adventures.
3. Play sidewalk chalk games. A tub of sidewalk chalk is a creative invitation to play that can also help keep math skills fresh. Play hopscotch and counting games, or fill the driveway with times table grids or a huge clock. Trace your shadow at various times of day and observe what happens. Don’t forget to doodle all over the driveway, and create some sidewalk art for the neighborhood to enjoy, too.
4. Take advantage of Target’s free community events. Become local tourists! Target works with many organizations to create fun community events, including free family nights at various children’s museums. Check out Target’s listings to find out what is happening near you.
5. Raid the fridge for some kitchen table chemistry. Armed with a library book (or ebook) on science experiments for kids, plus the contents of your own kitchen, you and your kids can explore the concepts of acids and bases, magnetism, condensation and more. Kids love getting the chance to test their hypotheses with hands-on, real world experiments—who doesn’t love to play “mad scientist”?
Tips from Amy
1. Read in fun places. Help your kids make reading a habit through the summer months, and do it every day. Read on a blanket in the grass, read up in a tree, read under a table, read on the porch or read in the pool. Read under the rising sun or with a flashlight in a tent. Read anywhere and everywhere, any time of day.
2. Try one new thing a week. Get your family on the road to learning by trying something new each week. Start with tasting a new food or exploring a new author. Try a new sport or activity like geocaching, a high-tech kind of scavenger hunt. Keep a running list of all of your ‘new’ skills so your kids can share their accomplishments with their teachers in the fall!
3. Start a business. Encourage children to make paper airplanes, flower barrettes, rock pets, lemonade or cookies, and host a sale for friends and neighbors. They can make signs to advertise, find a spot to set up shop and put on their business hats! Following Target’s lead, consider donating some of your profits to an organization your family feels strongly about.
4. Plan a neighborhood event. Grab a few neighborhood buddies, and work together to plan a fun event for everyone. Choose a date, and then decide whether it will be a carnival, a block party or a kids-only talent show. Maybe a mini-Olympics or an International Fair better suits your group. Remember to take pictures to chronicle your event!
5. Become an expert. Wouldn’t it be awesome to start the school year as a master gardener or skilled baker? The library holds the key to your new expertise! Read, read, read all you can on your topic, and before you know it, you’ll know more than you ever thought you could! Consider sharing this knowledge in a handmade book, pamphlet, flyer, PowerPoint or poster.