Ah, summer vacation. The time children all over eagerly await. What happens to all of their learning from the past year over that long break though? An article on education.com cites a study of summer learning loss, as measured by standardized testing, as up to a full grade level loss. The last thing a child enjoying the freedom of summer wants to hear about is more learning. The good news is that you can sneak in summer learning and have fun doing it.
Summer reading adventures
Reading may very well be the best form of learning available. However, getting your child to read over summer break may prove to be a bit of a challenge. Sometimes, though, a little incentive can go a very long way. Many local and national organizations offer a wide variety of incentive. If earning a free book isn’t enough incentive for your reluctant reader, Chuck E Cheese offers a summer reading program that earns kids 10 free tokens. Sylvan Learning’s “Book Adventures” program lets children earn points through their reading activities that can be turned in for various prizes. Don’t forget to check out our local library system, as they often run summer reading programs too.
Day trip learning
There are many, many learning possibilities available with a family day trip. Fairs, Festivals, museums and science centers all offer excellent learning opportunities. You can find a festival centered around almost anything these days. You can visit an arts and crafts festival to learn about making a variety of goods. Try a cultural festival to learn about the traditions of different ethnic groups. Check out a renaissance faire for a touch of history. Start at www.festivalsandevents.com or your local events calendar to find festivals near by. County fairs can provide a wonderful opportunity to learn about local agriculture. Look at www.stepintohistory.com to find living history museums. These wonderful museums are a resource for learning about many facets of history. Many living history museums offer skills demonstrations. Some have hands on learning experiences. Hands on science museums are a natural draw for children. www.astc.org can direct you to a science center in your area. Look for camps and workshops to extend the science fun and learning.
Some of children’s most important learning experiences happen when they get out into nature. This can be as simple as taking a nature walk. Checking your local events calendar may yield guided walks led by an area specialist. Nature centers and botanical gardens are always good to visit, but watch for special events to get the most learning experience. Zoos and butterfly houses help children really connect with nature, and are fun for the whole family. For the more adventurous and active child give geocaching a try. This great activity gives your child exercise, immersion in nature, and a chance to learn geography, all while experiencing the thrill of the hunt. Visit www.geocaching.com to learn all you need to know to get started.
Opportunities for learning are all around us and our children everyday. The opportunities for summer learning that are fun are limited only by your imagination. The benefits extend beyond just what you can teach your child though. The time spent together with your child can strengthen familial bonds and increase the child’s sense of self worth. So turn off the electronics and get out there as a family for your summer learning adventure.