Summer Endnotes: Last Minute Ideas for Fun and Learning

ImageIt’s August, and that means summer’s end is on the horizon. But there’s still plenty of time to savor the sunny days, warm weather, and relaxed lifestyle. Whether you are planning a last minute vacation with your kids, a “staycation,” or just looking for some creative ways to entertain and educate your children, there are many resources to help you do it.

Top 20 Summer Destinations for Learning on SchoolFamily.com presents a potpourri of suggestions, divided by geography. From the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., to the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, Ga., to the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., consider some of these cool venues that just might match your child’s special interests: Cool Venues

GreatSchools.org offers 10 great tips for enhancing family time during the summer. Ideas range from ambitious to simple – from taking a volunteer vacation to family reading night. Included are suggestions that can be executed in your backyard, such as planting a garden or a camping experience. Check out the whole article: GreatSchools.org

If you are visiting or live on Long Island, you know that there are many opportunities to dip into the beach or pool. Newsday’s Beth Whitehouse provides five other ways to stay cool on scorching summer days. If you won’t be on Long Island this summer, explore water adventures in your area. Newsday

Finally, if the weather is bad, try showing a DVD, such as Toy Story, one that’s entertaining and conveys life lessons. Take a look at this recommended list, compiled by UK child psychologist Dr Kairen Cullen. Recommended List

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How to Prevent Summer Learning Loss

Summer vacation is around the corner – and that means that both parents and kids get a break from the rigors of the school year. If your children are enrolled in day camp or other summer programs, they’ll likely get plenty of fresh air, exercise, and exploration. But the weak economy has taken its toll on families across the board. Fewer parents have the means to afford camps, tutors, and other summer programs that can enrich learning during the summer. And school budget cuts have also reduced free summer educational programs that existed in the recent past.

The bad news is that when students return to school after summer vacation, they’ve often lost one to three months of learning. Research indicates that math skills are most in jeopardy. Elementary students at all socio-economic levels typically lose math skills, while middle class students often make slight gains in reading.

The good news is that there are a number of strategies that you can use to ensure that your child doesn’t lose learning and skills over the summer. In the June/July issue of Long Island Parent, I offer 10 suggestions to help parents continue their children’s learning during the summer months.  To read the whole article, go to: http://liparentonline.com/features2.html

Here are a few of the tips:

  • Encourage reading by providing your children with plenty of books that interest them. Use school summer reading lists and library grade-level reading suggestions. Visit the library often and check out special summer events. Read with your children, and discuss the books they are reading with them. If you are really ambitious, organize a book club with a few of your child’s friends.
  • Understand that any topic of interest to your child can be a source of learning. For example, if your child is interested in baseball, surround him or her with baseball books and magazines. Watching a baseball game and keeping score or cataloguing baseball cards can be a lesson in statistics, i.e., RBI, ERA.
  • Car trips can evolve into math or geography lessons. Instead of the perennial kid question: “Are we there yet,” ask your children to estimate and calculate the travel time to a destination. Encourage your kids to recognize different state license plates, and talk about those states with them, fostering their geography skills.
  • For social studies learning, make day trips to local historical sites, such as Teddy Roosevelt’s home at Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay, or FDR’s home in Hyde Park, NY. Overnight trips to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Gettysburg, and Boston, offer a wealth of information about our nation’s history. And for science skills, don’t overlook children’s science museums and zoos, as well as outdoor natural wonders to explore, such as caves, beaches, and parks.
  • Don’t overlook the kitchen as a wonderful learning lab.  Involve your children in cooking and preparing meals, and they will exercise their reading, math and science skills. For example, have them read recipes, measure ingredients, and observe how the combination of different ingredients leads to the creation of something amazing.  For advanced learning, ask questions, such as how many pints are in a quart, or what made the dough rise?

Remember to keep learning fun. You want your children to return to school in September with improved skills and a renewed love of learning!