Welcome to Summer! It’s time for a break! Relax, unwind, and soak up some time with family and friends. After a couple of weeks, you might wonder if you “should” be doing anything educational over the summer. We’ve gathered some best practices from our seasoned parents and faculty on how to enjoy the summer months while incorporating fun and practical activities for continued learning:
- Find a balance. Ideally, summer will have a different feel than the school year. The goal is to find the sweet spot between “no school” and “all school.” Take a vacation, spend lots of time outside, and enjoy a more relaxed pace. You can do this while still being intentional to include some fun learning activities in your summer rhythms. This will not only improve your experience when school resumes in August, but you will also take advantage of the variety of options that summer allows. The next 4 steps include ways to practice skills in a more relaxed manner.
- Read, read, read! Make reading a daily rhythm with great books. Your local library might offer summer reading challenges and rewards, which is a great way to motivate elementary kids! Read aloud together as a family (no matter what age your kids are!). A good rule of thumb is to always be reading something above, below, and at reading level. Reading aloud is an effective way to expose kids to books above their reading level. This increases their literacy and attention spans. If you’re reading aloud a chapter book or a book of the Bible, you can read a little each day to spread it out over the course of a few weeks. Also let your kids choose some books purely for enjoyment that are at their reading level. As a family, you can also return to some favorites that are below their reading level, which allows kids to appreciate different aspects of language and stories than the first time they experienced a book. Listening to audio books is also great, but nothing beats gathering together as a family to experience a book together!
- Review math in fun ways. It’s just a fact that refraining to do any math for several months will result in retention loss, so it’s advisable to review your math concepts from the year before. But that doesn’t have to mean drudgery. Take advantage of videos, songs, and online programs such as ALEKS. Keep in mind to make summer math less intense than during the school year. For elementary kids, maybe you sing math songs in the car or play age appropriate board games. For secondary students, maybe you do an online math tutorial a couple of times a week and reward yourself with something fun afterwards. There’s a variety of ways to work math into your summer routine, so just be wise to not neglect it entirely!
- Work the struggle areas. Summer is an opportunity to strengthen areas of struggle, and there are usually a lot of options. It’s important to highlight the specific struggle points and dig in there. For instance, if your student struggles with word problems, spend time one day a week reviewing just the word problems. Don’t feel like you need to do an entire math book. If the area of struggle is broader, you could sign up for a camp, community class, online program, or hire a private tutor (many of our secondary students are willing to provide tutoring services!). Not only does this help the student gain ground in an area of struggle, but it also exposes them to different styles of learning while giving mom/dad an extended (and needed) break! If a program isn’t right for you, then there are still fun options that are also practical. For instance, if your child struggles with handwriting, let them write 1-2 postcards a week to send to their friends. If your student struggles with following directions, give them a recipe to make a fun treat! Working the struggle area will likely look different for each person, but that’s the beauty of summer–you have the flexibility to make it fit your needs, your limits, and your personality.
- Include community. This tip is probably included in every list of best practices! Just like Hebrews 10 advises–don’t neglect meeting together for encouragement. Initiate with friends. Find out if any new members have been added to your kids’ grades, and reach out to include the new families. Go to the pool together, sign up for camp together, or do a tutoring program together. Life is richer with friends!
We hope you have a wonderful summer and find a sweet spot of relaxation, fun, development, and time in community!