Summer is an exciting time for families — vacations, camps, sports and sunny days are on the horizon. Whether you have an infant, toddler or a school-aged child, the upcoming summer months offer opportunities for new experiences and to continue favorite, family traditions.
For children who will be out of the formal classroom for the summer, it’s important for parents to combat the “summer slide,” which is the tendency for students to lose some of the achievement gains they made during the school year. Talk with your child’s teacher before school is out. Know what they’ve been working on and ask how you can reinforce their learning. Studies show children can lose as much as one month worth of learning while on summer break.
For younger children, who won’t experience a dramatic change in their school schedule, summer still offers many new and exciting opportunities to develop skills they’ll need to succeed in school and beyond. Many programs transition classrooms in August, so find out what to expect for your child in the upcoming setting.
Talk About Summer Experiences
As you encounter new and exciting experiences as a family over the summer months, talk to your children about them. Find out what they’re interested in and ask questions that make them think. You may not know all the answers, but you can come up with questions together. You can even keep track of the questions you don’t know the answers to and plan a trip to the library to find out together.
For younger children, learn to be a play-by-play commentator. When you describe activities as they’re happening, you introduce your child to new words and help them begin to connect those words to actions, objects and meanings in the real world.
- Go to a farmers market and discuss fruits and vegetables, and how you can use them to prepare a meal.
- Visit a zoo or nature center and ask your child about the animals —why do they have long fur, how do fish breathe underwater, etc. Find out what animals they’re most interested in and look for books about them on your next visit to the library.
Read Every Day
For young children, reading is about listening. Even if your child doesn’t understand every word, or any words, they’ll hear new sounds, words and phrases. Reading to your baby from birth, even for just a few minutes each day, helps them form the foundation of a strong vocabulary.
As children begin reading on their own, you play an important role in keeping them interested in books and reading. Find out what interests them, help them to find books that will be engaging and fun, and spend time reading together every day.
Try these tips to support summer reading:
- Allow your child to choose books and help them find books that align with their interests.
- Listen to audiobooks while you’re in the car.
- Enroll in a free summer reading program at your library.
- For older children, take turns reading to each other. Reading aloud lets your child practice speech and language skills.
Get Outside and Play
Play is much more than entertainment, it’s also an important teaching tool. Through play, children learn about the world around them, get exercise, develop social skills such as concentration and cooperation, expand their imagination, and improve motor skills.
Try these tips to support learning through play:
- Play offers great opportunities for parent-child bonding. Be a healthy role model. Go on regular hikes, walks or bike rides with your child.
- Make time for outdoor play. For younger children, describe what your child is experiencing.
- Set up playdates with friends and family. For older kids, consider a camp or sports team. Group activities help your child develop important social skills, learn teamwork and make friends.
Take advantage of the many exciting adventures summer has in store. Most importantly, enjoy time as a family! This summer, your child will form memories that last for the rest of their life. Make them happy memories.