Trips to the grocery, the county fair or the pool are all opportunities to have the kids do a little math. Another way to build math skills is to play games. Nearly every game builds some level of math skills while everyone has fun.
For reading — pick a book to read aloud together this summer. Children who hear great books read expressively learn to love reading. The bonding with family also creates a positive association with reading. You can even take a book and have different family members read the different parts. They get to practice reading skills and fulfill their desire to be a drama star all at the same time.
Hand the plans for the bird house or the map for the trip to the children and ask them to read it. This offers practice in a different style of reading, which builds the variety of skills children need to succeed. Whether they read the recipe as you cook or the directions to the doctor’s office, everyday situations offer a chance both for your child to practice reading and for you to offer immediate, helpful feedback when they need extra support.
For overall skills — take advantage of special summer opportunities. 4-H projects offer some of the best learning opportunities around. Projects are available for nearly every child’s interest, and completing the projects develops a varied skill set. The hands-on approach means the learning will last, because it was experienced and related to something the child loves. Take your children to the Boone County fair to explore an idea for next summer.
Summer programs through the library, Eagle Creek Nature Center, or the state parks likewise offer hands-on opportunities to explore interests and keep the learning going over the summer.
Parents who engage in their children’s learning and support it throughout the summer greatly enrich their children’s lives. However, the focus on just books often kills their child’s very desire for learning. Instead, make learning a strategic part of the flow of life. Give children active roles in everyday projects, and you’ll see the learning stick — plus a desire to go deeper grow. That’s true education.
Tess Worrell is the mother of eight and teaches parenting and marriage. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.