For a kid, nothing beats summer break. No more pencils. No more books. You know the rest.
But while you are planning a summer full of kid friendly beach vacations, you need to remember that summer will soon end, and your child will return to school in just a couple of months. Although it may be tempting to allow your child to bend the rules during the summer, it will make your job as a parent that much more difficult when you have to put your foot down in the fall.
You also need to be aware of what teachers call the “summer slide.” Talk with any grade school teacher, and he or she will tell you that the first several weeks of school are spent reteaching material that students forgot over the summer break. Make sure your child stays sharp and ready to learn when school comes this August. Encourage your child to learn during the summer, even while on vacation.
You may be rolling your eyes at the idea of doing schoolwork while on vacation. While you may not want to bring a fractions workbook with you for your child to do on the plane, there are several strategies that you can try, especially for younger kids, that will trick them into learning when they didn’t suspect it.
Here are some strategies to help your early grade-school-aged kids learn while on vacation.
When trying to determine pre-reading readiness, reading specialists test children on their ability to rhyme. Studies show that children who can rhyme are more ready to read than those who can’t.
How do you teach rhyming? One fun way is to sing fun songs such as Down By the Bay, where kids are given a chance to come up with their own rhyming lyrics. Look up YouTube videos if you aren’t familiar with the song.
Even songs with set lyrics, or nursery rhymes, are excellent for children to predict rhyming sounds.
Singing a wide variety of songs and repeating nursery rhymes also increases your child’s vocabulary. What is this “pail” thing that Jack and Jill are carrying up the hill? Miss Muffett sat on a tuffet. What the heck’s a tuffet? You can use the opportunity to show your child that you are always willing to learn too.
Try not to let your child spend the entire car ride engrossed in Netflix or YouTube videos. Instead, listen to an audiobook that your whole family will enjoy. Grab a printed copy of the book so you can continue to read it before bedtime at the hotel.
Take a break from media and encourage your child to look at the outside world as you pass it by. Read the street signs and billboards. Your children will gain confidence as readers as they read McDonald’s, Home Depot, and Target signs. Sure, they are probably not necessarily understanding the actual words, but understanding visual clues is a pre-reading strategy.
Read signs at museums and zoos – maybe not every sign, but make sure your child is given a chance to read about subjects appealing to him or her. If your kiddo loves giraffes, spend time at the giraffe exhibit. Read small bits of information, and then ask casual questions to determine if your child understands what has been read. They should learn that reading is an appealing task because it unlocks the mysteries of the world around us.
More than anything, parents should try to present the idea of reading as an enjoyable activity that brings pleasure. It’s not something that should be checked off your child’s daily to-do list, such as feeding the dog or taking out the trash.
Pay Attention to Nature
If you are traveling this summer to a location that is a separate region from where you live, talk about the similarities and differences of the birds, trees, animals, and weather from your home to your vacation destination.
As you enjoy the great outdoors, talk about how particular trees thrive in different climates. Discuss how paying attention to droppings and broken limbs may indicate that there is an animal nearby. Try to determine what types of clouds are in the sky.
You won’t know all the answers, but your child will learn to pay attention to the wonders of the great outdoors. If you spend all your time during your visit to a national park or a beach taking selfies and checking email, your child will not learn how to investigate their natural surroundings.
Enjoy your summer, and remember if you want your child to keep learning over the summer, you need to keep learning as well.