Activities for the summer holidays

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16 ways to be sure your kids keep learning over summer break

Summer vacation is a time for fun in the sun and enjoying freedom from the drudgery of school in the minds of most children. Making sure that they retain some of the things they’ve learned over the school year and continuing to develop important skills during the dog days doesn’t have to be a chore, even though it can seem daunting. These 16 tips will ensure that your youngsters keep learning, even when they’re not in a classroom.

  1. Cook together – Kids can make a mess in the kitchen, but they can also gain practical mathematic knowledge from the experience. Encourage your kids to handle the measurements when you prepare a favorite recipe, work on doubling or halving the yield and focus on the basic chemistry of baking.
  2. Shop as a family – A trip to the store with all of your kids in tow might not be flirting with disaster, as long as you get them involved in the process. Compare prices, talk about unit pricing and how buying more of an item might be cheaper and work on the percentages during retail sales. When your kids are involved, there’s no room for the boredom that can lead to misbehavior.
  3. Take advantage of community programs – Many community centers offer summer classes and workshops designed specifically to help kids retain knowledge over the break in fun, exciting ways. Do a bit of research to see what’s available in your area!
  4. Explore animal life – Visiting a full-size zoo, a petting zoo or even a local farm can put your kids in touch with animals, helping them learn more about the life sciences while keeping them entertained.
  5. Limit screen time – Educational videos and software might teach your kids a thing or two, but they also encourage the kind of sedentary lifestyle that leads to childhood obesity and all the related health problems. Video games and television with no educational merit steal time that your kids could be using to actively pursue new knowledge. Putting realistic limits on screen time will help you encourage kids to keep learning while also being active.
  6. Encourage summer reading – There’s a reason why so many schools used to have summer reading lists. Take advantage of your local library or make regular visits to the bookstore to keep your kids stocked with books so they can sharpen their reading and comprehension skills.
  7. Choose vacation destinations with educational value – Summer break is often a time for family vacations, which can be great learning opportunities if you choose the destination wisely. Instead of spending a week at an amusement park or resort, why not explore sites of historical significance?
  8. Put kids in charge of navigation – In a world where technology is king, kids that have been raised with GPS systems in every pocket may not have the slightest idea of how to actually read a map. Invest in an atlas and plan an imaginary road trip with your child as the navigator. He’ll be so wrapped up in his fantasy vacation that he may not even realize that he’s learning something new!
  9. Spend evenings stargazing – If you live in an area with a relatively low level of light pollution, take advantage of the warm summer nights by stargazing as a family. Point out constellations and learn more about the stars together.
  10. Explore nature – One great thing about the long, sunny days of summer is that going outside to get up close and personal with nature doesn’t require a heavy coat and mittens that can make little hands a bit clumsy. Slather on the sunscreen and reinforce natural science lessons by exploring the great outdoors.
  11. Start music lessons – Kids that are involved in music classes tend to have higher SAT scores, are more likely to finish high school and show better academic performance overall than many of their non-musical peers. Take advantage of the free time that summer vacation offers, and enrol your youngster in music lessons.
  12. Consider summer camp – Summer camps, especially those with a focus on academics or a specific hobby, can be great places for kids to learn while having a blast. Summer camp can be pricey, and younger kids may not be too keen on the idea of spending the entire summer at a sleep-away camp. In such cases, a local day camp can provide many of the same learning opportunities without the added stress.
  13. Discuss current events – You’d be surprised at what your kids can learn about the world by simply being included in discussions about current events. Center family dinner conversation on the things going on in the world to help your kids gain a greater understanding of the world around them.
  14. Make family game night a learning experience – Family game night can be fun and informative, especially if you choose games that encourage logical thinking or strategy.
  15. Pass along valuable life skills – When your kids are home from school all day, help them gain valuable life skills by simply teaching them how to do new things. Learning isn’t all about academia; kids also need to know how to navigate the world in order to be independent, successful adults.
  16. Embrace structure – It’s tempting to give in to kids’ pleas to stay up all night and sleep well into the afternoon when there’s no risk of a tardy slip, but it only makes it more difficult to adjust to a normal schedule when school starts. The lack of structure can also make it more difficult to ensure that they’re not wasting the summer watching garbage television and playing video games all night.

Republished with kind permission from Part Time Nanny 


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