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Ways to combat the summer slide on learning

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A hike offers learning opportunities in the sciences, and it’s a healthy alternative to many indoor pursuits.
A hike offers learning opportunities in the sciences, and it’s a healthy alternative to many indoor pursuits. Getty Images/Creatas Images

The weather is hot and school is out, but learning experiences shouldn’t end there. The summer months can provide plenty of opportunities to continue a child’s advancement through different activities and programs.

According to a University of Missouri-Columbia study, students can lose up to three months of what they learned during the school year over summer break. To help avoid that loss of knowledge, here are some helpful brain-boosting activities to keep your child’s mind sharp this summer.

Family fun time

While a summer camp might send your youngster far away, a family vacation keeps children right by your side. A trip together as a family, even as short as a one-night camping getaway, can provide a variety of life lessons and unexpected learning experiences. Visit a national park or a zoo for some science-related exploration and a chance to spend time with nature.

Head to the library

To bring out the bookworm in your child, a trip to the library is an easy place to start. Of course, reading programs provide the simplest way to put literature in children’s hands, but many libraries offer programs to get children involved. Look for arts-and-crafts programs at your local library, such as an origami class or doodling session, for additional ways to jog your child’s brain.

Books for bonding

A family book club is a great way to increase bonding time while also encouraging a love of reading. Your children will love digging into stories about dinosaurs, exploring outer space and reading about the biology of deep-sea creatures. After finishing a book together, discuss the plot, characters, themes and more in an interactive fashion that allows each family member to take part in the literary discussion.

From reading to writing

All of that reading just might give children motivation to put thoughts into words of their own. A journal is a great place for any child to write about summer trips, memories with friends or draw quick sketches. On top of recordkeeping, children can learn to create stories of their own, such as the ones they read in fictional books about their favorite characters, superheroes or animals.

Celebrating science

Because science is everywhere, it’s easy to make every day a learning experience that inspires curiosity for your little one. Something as simple as bird-watching or taking a walk around the neighborhood can give your child a chance to view nature in action. Schedule some time outside when the view is at its best, such as early in the morning when birds are singing or just before dusk as the sun sets over the horizon.

For more ways to get your kids engaged with an educational summer, visit elivingtoday.com.

Tips to stop the summer slide

Learning shouldn’t stop just because school is out. Stepping too far away from the books can result in learning loss. However, research shows that encouraging kids to read for 20 minutes a day over the summer can help prevent the slide.

The key is finding ways to make reading fun, combining education and entertainment, said Kate DiCamillo, a two-time Newbery Medal Award-winning author and the 2016 Collaborative Summer Library Program national summer reading champion.

“Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty, but rather as a gift that emphasizes the fun of opening a new book and celebrating the satisfaction that comes from reading another story,” said DiCamillo, who is the 2016-17 Pizza Hut BOOK IT! Program literary partner.

Summer schedules can get busy, but with a little creativity it’s easy to fit in those 20 minutes, even when you have other plans.

  • The best way to get your kids reading is to have books available, so take them with you, whether it’s in the car, at the beach or waiting at the doctor’s office.
  • Plan ahead for a fun reading-related trip during the summer to reignite the love of books and reward kids for reading. It doesn’t have to be fancy; the trip could simply be camping like a character in a book.
  • Reading is more fun when the subject matter involves your favorite things. Look for books that match your kids’ personal interests.
  • Work with other parents to set up pen pals and have kids write letters back and forth to practice their reading and writing skills.
  • Ask kids to read the directions for a classic summer project, like setting up a tent or making a picnic snack. Whether they are directing you or doing it themselves, reading and understanding directions build important skills.
  • If you’re committed to limiting screen time for the summer, consider a compromise that lets kids use devices for productive activities, such as reading e-books.

The sooner you start a habit of reading every day, the better your child will be prepared when school — and the annual BOOK IT! Program — kicks off again. Learn more about the program and find more summer reading tips and activities at bookitprogram.com.

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