While summer vacation is a time that kiddos young and old look forward to, the idea of summer learning loss—also known as “summer slide”—tends to worry parents.
According to Oxford Learning, the equivalent of one month of learning is often lost after summer vacation as a result of students not practicing the skills they learned in the previous academic year. The good news? There are many ways to keep your child engaged throughout the summer, keeping them on track for when they return to the classroom come fall. Here, we share a few ideas for children of all ages.
Take Advantage of Your Surroundings
Summer is a great time to embrace the outdoors with your kids. And for those who live in Northern Virginia—a region surrounded by nature-filled mountains and parks, as well as museums and monuments that define the nation—it’s even better.
According to research from Sanford Health, one of the largest health systems in the United States, unstructured outdoor play has several benefits for growing children, including cognitive and social development, improvement of sensory skills, increase of attention span and strengthening of the immune system. So this season, take at least an hour out of your day to explore hiking trails and walking paths, or even play an organized sport like basketball in the driveway with your little one.
In an effort to maintain a routine as experts recommend while also ensuring your kids are engaged, try planning a trip into DC once every two weeks. This way, your kids can choose which museums they want to visit and enrich their minds with. The Smithsonian Institute is just about 15 miles from central Northern Virginia, giving you and your family direct access to dinosaur fossils, Dorothy’s ruby red slippers from The Wizard of Oz, a few of the first airplanes to ever take flight and so much more. Plus, the National Mall (lined with food trucks almost daily) is a great place for a family picnic on a breezy summer’s day.
Listen Up: Three Podcasts to Keep the Curious Content
But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids
Does your little one constantly ask you questions surrounding topics small and large? Well, thanks to this podcast from Vermont Public Radio, you don’t have to be the one sharing all the answers. You send in the questions, and the experts will tackle it all each week on this show.
This series from National Geographic Kids shares some of the greatest Greek myths ever told, from how Zeus gained his strength to how Athena utilizes her wisdom.
Stuff You Missed in History Class
Tweens and teens will dive deep into weird events, overlooked stories and underrepresented groups of the past with this history-focused podcast from iHeartRadio. The series also ties recent events into its triweekly episodes, including an episode on what it’s like to live through an event you know will be historically significant.
Embrace Your Inner Bookworm
This one isn’t exactly a shocker, as we are consistently told how important reading is for the growing brain. In fact, studies show that reading four to five books over the summer has a positive impact comparable to summer school enrollment.
If reading doesn’t sound appealing to your little one, make it more fun by creating a reward system for finishing chapters or books, bringing books with you on your summer adventures (think the beach or the park) and even reading as an entire family on a warm, summer afternoon. Plus, finding the right book for your kiddo’s unique mind always helps.
Must Reads for Every Age Group
Newborn to age 3: The Good Egg by Jory John; The Serious Goose by Jimmy Kimmel; Where’s The Astronaut? Illustrated by Ingela P. Arrhenius
Ages 3 to 8: National Parks of the U.S.A. by Kate Siber; The Little Boy (Or Girl) Who Lost Their Name, personalized book by Wonderbly; Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems by Paul B. Janeczko
Ages 8 to 10: Because of the Rabbit by Cynthia Lord; Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai; Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Ages 11 to 14: Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley, This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki; Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell
Sophisticated teens: Butterfly Yellow by Thanhha Lai; Tweet Cute by Emma Lord; The Paper Girl of Paris by Jordyn Taylor (release date: May 26)
Think Outside the Box
Learning doesn’t always have to follow the traditional format of practice tests and vocabulary quizzes. This summer, get creative as an entire family through innovative projects that are as fun as they are stimulating. Find a few ideas to inspire you, below:
- Buy a journal for your kids and encourage daily writing.
- Fill your home with board games (which you can bring outside in nice weather too!) such as Code Names, Scrabble and Guess Who?, all of which help kids practice essential skills like memory recall and spelling.
- Teach them to cook or bake! Whether you have a 5-year-old or a 15-year-old, everyone will enjoy creating something different as an entire family—and it will taste good too.
Sleep is an essential part of your child’s routine, even in the summer months. Here’s how many hours the National Sleep Foundation recommends your kiddos (and you!) get.
Ages 6 to 13: 9-11 hours
Ages 14 to 17: 8-10 hours
Adults ages 26 to 64: 7-9 hours