Summer learning tips (that won't spoil your kids' summer)
If you’re anything like me, you probably cringe a little whenever you hear people talk about children’s summer learning loss, or the ‘summer slide’, as it’s sometimes called.
By the time the summer holidays roll round our kids are exhausted and really in need of some downtime. I want them to remember their summers as a time when they were able to kick back, have an adventure or two, and enjoy some quality time as a family.
On the other hand, I do want to avoid the potential of a meltdown when they go back to school in September and can’t handle what is expected of them after doing nothing all summer.
So, how do you find the balance? Here are a few tips that have helped our family walk the fine line between having lots of summer fun while maintaining our learning level:
You won’t need me to tell you that reading is one of the best habits we can pass on to our kids. Its educational value is immense.
Getting kids into reading is all about finding that thing that sparks their interest. Children who aren’t interested in stories might enjoy a comic book with plenty of illustrations, or find themselves hooked by a fact book about space, or dinosaurs, or even a book about how to play their favourite computer game. It’s all learning!
We are lucky to have a well-stocked library in our town which we make good use of over the summer holidays. Across the country there are also dozens of summer reading initiatives and schemes like this one which offer rewards to keep kids motivated, so keep an eye out for those too.
2. Scrapbooking and journalling
Okay, so we’ve started a summer scrapbook every year but I have to confess that we’ve never actually kept it going to the end. However, the idea of keeping a record of my kids’ summer is so appealing to me that we’re going to make it a top priority to complete this year.
Scrapbooking is a great way to keep learning over the summer. Younger kids can develop their fine motor skills - learning to use scissors works those little hand muscles like nobody’s business! Older kids will keep developing their writing and letter formation, and cement basic spellings into their memories without even realising that they’re ‘working’.
Keeping a journal can either be a solo project or, if your kids need a bit more encouragement, a family journal works just as well. Try to keep it fun and creative so it doesn’t become a chore. You’ll find lots of inspiration on this dedicated journalling website, and Pinterest is a great source of ideas too.
Mix up different skills and styles - creative writing, reporting with drawing or sketching, photos the kids have taken themselves plus independent research. We try to add something every day (or at least every second day). Although it doesn't always come naturally, I let the kids lead the way with the content.
3. Talk about trips
Summer is the perfect time to go on trips, whether it’s to the zoo, a museum, a theme park or a local nature site.
It’s obviously a fun day out, but so much more educational value can be squeezed out of trips like these. Actively encourage your children to engage in conversations about what they’re seeing, to discuss what they think about different elements and then to reflect on what new things they’ve learned that day.
Even if it’s as simple as having a good look at the roller coaster mechanism at the funfair and talking about how they think it might work, it’s all about keeping those little grey cells active.
4. Write a postcard
Even if you’re not going anywhere on holiday, you can help your kids write and send a post card to a friend or family member. It’s the perfect opportunity to keep writing fun and emphasise that it doesn’t always have to be a chore.
5. Look for the maths in the everyday
I’ve become very accomplished at finding maths in the real world and I’m a great believer in this being a super motivator for kids - it certainly was for me when I was their age.
So, I’ll make a little more time for the kids when I’m cooking or out in the garden, getting them to practice skills such as measuring and sorting and asking them questions to help develop number sense, without them even realising!
The Komodo blog has lots of ideas to help with this.
6. Komodo time (of course!)
It’ll come as no surprise that we use Komodo to nail the maths learning over the summer. Komodo’s little and often learning schedule makes this easy to keep up for the duration of the holidays. Every second day, my kids earn their screen time by doing 15 minutes of Komodo. That’s all it takes.
This year at Komodo we introduced the Parent Dashboard. One of the new, easy to use features that I’ll make use of over the summer is the “repeat a level” option There are a few skills my kids covered this past school year that they could use a little more practice with before they move on next term, so I’ll set them up to do a couple of extra sessions on those topics.
To keep the motivation going throughout the summer, I make sure their rewards are up to date. In our house, time spent on games consoles or tablets plus a choice of a day trip works well. This means they get treats that they can use immediately, as well as a bigger reward to work towards. Here are some reward ideas that are easy on the wallet.
7. Start a new hobby
My kids’ regular clubs take a break over the summer, so with this extra time on their hands it’s the perfect opportunity to explore new hobbies and skills.
We’ve written about the learning connection between music and maths on our blog previously, and you can extend many of the same principles to sports, crafting and other hobbies.
Hobbies also help develop the “softer” skills that stand kids in good stead throughout their school careers and beyond, such as resilience, concentration and the value of practice.
I hope this has given you an insight into how I deal with the summer slide issue without ruining my kids’ summer! We’d love to hear from you if you have any ideas or tips that could help other parents. I’ll be posting links to this article on our various social media channels, so please feel free to share your ideas.
And if you haven’t already done so, we’d love to have you give Komodo a go - you can try it out free for two weeks, including a personalised learning plan for your child from one of our qualified maths teachers.
I'm Jane, Co-founder of Komodo, mum to Kate and James. If you have any questions, please get in touch.
About Komodo - Komodo is a fun and effective way to boost primary maths skills. Designed for 5 to 11-year-olds to use in the home, Komodo uses a little and often approach to learning maths (15 minutes, three to five times per week) that fits into the busy routine. Komodo helps users develop fluency and confidence in maths - without keeping them at the screen for long.