School’s Out for Summer: Helping Your Child Stay Engaged as a Learner

As the school year winds down, you may be looking forward to vacations, beach days, summer camp, and other relaxing family activities.  It is important to keep in mind, however, that children need to stay engaged, as learners, during the summer months to hold on to the learning that has occurred over the year so that they can return to school in September ready to learn!  If no learning takes place over the summer, many students find it difficult to transition back to school, both socially and academically.  Here are a few activities for helping to keep your child engaged throughout the summer:

  • Look at science and social studies standards for your child’s next grade level.  Plan a few day trips to places that introduce them to these concepts.  For example, visit a local estuary before second grade to learn about life cycles of the butterfly, go to a planetarium to learn about the solar system before fifth grade, or take a trip to a mission or rancho before fourth grade.
  • If your child has school assignments for the summer, create a schedule for completing them.  Schedule a little time each day to work on them throughout July and August.
  • Encourage your child to visit with school friends.
  • Have your child write a play and make puppets for “puppet theater” out of felt, markers, and yarn.  Then, encourage them to work with neighbors or friends to perform the play for friends and family members.
  • When heading to the movies, ask your child to assist in computing the cost of tickets/snacks for the family and/or make plans for when you need to leave and arrive for the show.
  • Have your child attend day camp or sleep away camp, if possible.
  • Find science kits online for fun experiments that can be completed at home.
  • Encourage your child to learn a musical instrument or another new skill over the summer.
  • Involve your child in helping you cook.  Recipes are a great way to practice measuring skills and following directions.  Ask them to research and plan a meal for the family.
  • Look into Summer Reading Programs at the library and local bookstores (see links).  Many offer rewards for reading a certain number of books.
  • Have your child compute the cost of gas for a family trip, requiring them to research the distance and cost of gas to find the total.
  • Ask your child to prepare a “Current Event” report for dinner table discussions.  They should be ready to share a couple of facts and one opinion about the topic they’ve learned about through the TV/internet/newspaper.  Young children can share news about their day.
  • Provide authentic writing opportunities:  ask him or her to write a packing list before a trip, prepare a grocery store list, compose a wish list for family summer activities, write cards for friends and family detailing summer activities, record reminders, or keep a journal.
  • Often, kids need to join you on errands over the summer.  Ask your child to help you find certain items, mentally compute the amount that you will be spending at the checkout, or compute how much change to expect for a smaller purchase.
  • During a family trip, encourage your child to collect and read brochures, gather mementos, and purchase postcards.  Help your child create a photobook or scrapbook filled with pictures taken and captions written by them.
  • Summer is a great time for kids to read high-interest works such as appropriate magazines, newspapers, and internet articles.  Be sure you monitor your child whenever he or she is on the computer.


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