For most of us, the school year has ended and the whole family is adjusting to the kids being home all day.
You may have a vacation and a couple of fun activities planned, but let’s face it, there’s a lot of time between now and the end of summer.
Well, if you want to keep your kids active, busy, and prepared to go back to school in the fall, now is the time to start!
While it’s certainly fine – sometimes even necessary – to have a few quiet, lazy days here and there, kids also thrive on routine.
And a routine of sitting on the couch playing video games or watching movies is not going to benefit them in the long run.
Now, the kids are not going to want to feel like they’re doing homework over summer vacation, but with a little creativity, you can create time in which they can learn and have fun doing it.
In order to keep kids’ skills sharp over the summer, the most important thing they can do is read each day. Make this a priority, but also allow them to choose a block of time that they would prefer to use for reading.
With younger kids, it may be that you read to them at bedtime, or you can enlist the help of their older siblings to read to them. That way, everyone gets their reading time in!
Make it fun! Set up a comfy reading corner somewhere in the house. Fill it with colorful pillows or beanbag chairs, a small bookcase and a lamp. You can even add twinkle lights, a small indoor tent, and blankets.
How about some math time? It’s easy to do when you make your errands interactive and educational by taking the kids along and having them help out.
They can write the grocery list, take inventory of things needed for the week, count change, and even help comparison shop while at the store. They’ll feel like they’re doing a “grown-up” activity, and they’ll also be keeping their math skills sharp!
Older kids can even help plan out family trips by using maps, researching areas of special interest online, and keeping a travel journal of places they’ve visited.
Try some educational travel games while on a long road trip. Old standbys like finding landmarks, looking for a license plate from each state, or tallying how many cars of a certain color they see are all great for helping with focus and attention span.
Be ready to be spontaneous on your family vacation this summer. If your child is really interested in a particular museum or historic spot or even if you just happen to stumble upon a place they’d like to go, follow their interests.
It’s especially helpful when driving long distances to give them a little break here and there – and anything can be used as a teachable moment.
Create your own summer schedule with the kids and stick to it! Even if the routine has changed, it is important to stick to one.
Find fun activities that also teach math, reading, and motor skills, like cooking together or working on a household project that needs to be done. Little ones can help measure ingredients – or measure materials for that home repair you’re working on!
When you’re out running errands, always be on the lookout for a few craft supplies or building kits you may find on sale.
Make a “rainy day” box for those long, summer days when everyone is stuck indoors with these kits, games, or puzzles.
The key to making it interesting is that the kids are only allowed to find an activity from the box when it’s raining. That way, they won’t use everything up at once, and they’ll actually look forward to being stuck inside!
Nearly every “ordinary” activity can be used to teach with a little creativity.
Count, sort, and make patterns with small candies like M&Ms or Skittles. Cut vegetables like carrots and zucchini into “blocks” and make pictures on the plate.
Turn those empty boxes that come in the mail (or from cleaning out the garage) and make a playhouse or a maze that teaches construction skills and fosters art time.
Turn off the TV, use your imagination, and you’ll find the kids have learned a great deal over the summer by making simple things fun and educational.