School is out and summer is here! While students often crave a rest from their daily routines, their brains remain hungry for the “superfood” that active learning provides. Whether you’d like to help your child avoid the so-called summer slide, or are looking for some creative ideas to fill downtime, this curated list of ideas from Westtown’s Lower School faculty can serve as a guide.
- Create a mini book club for your young readers and their friends. It’s as easy as picking the same book and then meeting at someone’s home, a coffee shop, or even the pool. Kids get excited to do something adult-like and the opportunity to spend time with friends. Set a few dates for club meetings in advance to keep the momentum going. Create a few index cards with questions that the kids can choose to get the conversation started when they meet.
- Go Geocaching with your children and family friends! It’s easier now with the use of your Smartphone. Visit one of the geocaching sites (we recommend this one), or download an app to your phone, create an account, then start searching in your local community or when on vacation.
- Play the Alphabet Game, summer style! Aim to do something for every letter over the summer months. (For example – P is for picking peaches, M for visit a Museum. T is for sleep in a Tent.) These can be as simple or as complex as you want, and are a fun way to try new things.
- Have your children write letters to friends they don’t see over the summer. Print out a class list and then commit to sending one letter a week to a different friend. Set a goal of how many sentences each letter should be. It’s a creative way to practice spelling and punctuation.
- Return to some of the school field trip sites and museums that your child went to and let them be the tour guide. Pay attention to what they are saying and let them be the experts. This is empowering for a child!
- Encourage your child to manage the family calendar for the summer. They can keep track of the family’s summer activities, write down appointments, vacations, playdates, and more in the squares.
- Spend time outside drawing on sidewalks or driveways with chalk, building forts with sticks, riding bikes, blowing bubbles —anything outside. These activities create opportunities for imaginative play, which supports literacy and social-emotional development, and strengthens their fine- and gross-motor skills, and visual-spatial development.
- Strengthen your child’s Spanish over the summer with these tools:
- Watch or read ESPN Deportes, Alan Por El Mundo (travel videos) or Newsela en español.
- Go to a Latin American or Spanish restaurant and order in Spanish.
- Listen to books in Spanish using The Spanish Experiment.
- Have your child try simple scrapbooking or journaling with flair. You don’t need all the goodies from a craft store unless you want to add them; a regular notebook or journal works. Start by gluing a photo of a summer activity in and add a caption. You can add more photos or other mementos as you collect them (take-out menus, business cards from stores or places visited, travel brochures, tickets to a movie/show/attraction, maps from travel or a theme park/museum, for example) Each time you glue in a memento, add a sentence (or two or three!). At the end you have a summer memory book.
- Plan a trip, real or imaginary. Go to AAA and get a selection of maps. Let your children plan a route using a map and then check it against the GPS! Invite them to research area attractions and plan an itinerary, as well as calculate admission costs.
- Play cards. Simple games like Uno help kids with quick response to what they are seeing on the table, including color and number patterns. Lengthier games like Rummy 500 are perfect for keeping a running score throughout the summer. Games bring the family together and they are as much fun for the adults as for the children
- Plan a meal together. Let your children do the shopping with you and work on money skills in the process. Let them measure the ingredients, as well as follow the recipe directions. These are wonderful practices for sequencing, math, and reading skills.
- Pass the jar. Create a conversation starter jar by writing open-ended questions, or “would you rather” questions on slips of paper. The questions go in a jar to be passed around the dinner table. This can also be a trivia game, with your children researching and writing trivia questions.
And please don’t forget to read, read, read! (This means you too, Mom and Dad!) To encourage summer academic gain, and more importantly, to instill lifelong reading habits in your children, model reading for your children Have a wonderful summer filled with stories, memories, and family fun!