After a year of studying and homework, kids love to bask in the relaxing summer sunshine. Taking some time to have fun is essential for kids and adults. As parents, we want our kids to have this downtime, but we also want to make sure that their academic skills don’t become too rusty.
I have tried the workbook route. The younger ones often don’t seem to mind diving into a workbook on a rainy summer afternoon to pass the time. As the kids get older, you will probably see them running for the hills if even the topic of school prep comes up. The direct approach may not be the best idea when competing with pool time and amusement parks for the prize of a child’s attention.
When the kids are a captive audience for a little while (at meals or in the car), consider sneaking in a few mini lessons to keep their “thinking” muscles exercised this summer.
Building up their vocabulary doesn’t take much time at all. Consider sneaking in a “word of the day” discussion and see how many of those words the kids will remember by the end of the week. Maybe offer an ice cream treat if they can recite the definitions by Friday. Ice cream can be a great incentive!
Does your family enjoy those reruns of Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? When playing along at home, kids can't help but want to have a arsenal of knowledge handy to answer the questions and maybe stump or impress family and friends. Your kids may not mind having a nugget or two of geography or history knowledge if you give it to them in small doses. As a family in the car, you can try to name state capitals, major rivers, or locations of world landmarks. It is a fun and educational way to pass the time on those long car trips.
Take five minutes to point out an accomplishment or two of a major American or world leader. Watching the world news together for a few minutes can also spark a quick discussion about types of government around the world. Who knows? Maybe some of that information will sink in and inspire a future history or social studies report.
Third and fourth graders can have a quick multiplication or division refresher with the use of flashcards when you are driving to the supermarket or local mall. Again, make it a competition. Watch how they will work hard to outsmart their brother and sister with those math facts.
Most kids seem to be fascinated with weather. During the next summer thunderstorm, consider googling up sites that discuss the science behind lightning, wind currents, and precipitation. You may find that your kid’s curiosity about weather could lead to searches on tornadoes and hurricanes too.
Summer reading feels like a chore to many kids. Try to sit with your child at regular periods during the weeks of reading. Ask some questions about favorite characters and surprising scenes. Kids may speed through a section and miss some important points. If you take the time to ask about the chapter, you will find your child talking about the plot and maybe asking questions for clarification too.
With a few sneaky mini lessons, you can feel assured that your kids are thinking, imagining, and preparing for the upcoming school year. The one-on-one time with your kids is a special added bonus for you too!