How to keep kids learning more over the summer
Summer learning for kids is very different from what happens throughout the academic year. For this reason, it's not about making kids do maths and science but instead encouraging their interests.
With such heavy and full academic schedules, it's hard for most students to do more than schoolwork throughout the school year. Summer can, therefore, be a time to find new extra-curricular interests, experience new ideas, and challenge their thinking around subjects.
As a parent, you can help them do this by taking the pressure off their schoolwork and widening their horizons in various ways. Here's what to try.
Watch the news together
Now that teens get most of their news and views from social media and online videos, it's hard to know what they view and how they digest information and opinions.
Summer is a great time to get them to watch the news with you so you can spark discussion about a wide range of subjects. This not only enables you to help them fine-tune their opinions, but it's also a way for them to challenge their views with media that's more balanced and reputable than the anecdotal posts on social media.
Watching the news also gives students' real world' context to their learning and builds their knowledge, language, vocabulary and critical thinking skills. By debating the issues, they watch with you; you can also help improve their political understanding and problem-solving skills.
Go to a bookstore and library
With online shopping and online learning, many students don't venture into bookstores and peruse shelves for inspiration anymore. Yet, wandering a bookstore is an excellent way for your child to find intriguing books, authors, and subject areas they hadn't realised they were interested in.
What works best is to take your kids to a large bookstore and let them wander around, reading, exploring, and maybe taking some books home that jump out to them. Don't make suggestions unless they ask, and don't rush them. Let them spend time finding books and subjects that intrigue them.
This is a great way to encourage summer reading, which is one area that is worth promoting for lifelong learning and one place that tends to slide in the summer.
For younger children, head to the library for the Summer Reading Challenge. For 2022, the theme has been developed in partnership with The Science Museum. It is a science-filled challenge that will inspire children to see the science and innovation behind everyday objects, showing that reading and science are for everyone.
This year's Summer Reading Challenge collection features 67 inspiring titles for different reading levels encompassing picture books, early readers and middle-grade titles, with fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and graphic novels. The books all engage with the key themes of everyday science, invention and creation and fun with friends.
Don't worry about summer learning loss
While studies show there is something known as summer learning loss, it's more of a slide than a loss. It happens because, over the summer break, students tend to switch off from academic study, which shows a decline when they return. However, most of these studies are from the US, which has a much longer summer break, between 8 and 12 weeks, compared to the UK, where the gap is 6 - 8 weeks.
Even with a long break, the studies also show that lost knowledge can be recouped within a month once children return to school.
Help to keep specific skills sharp
If you are worried about your kids losing skills in core subjects like maths and English, Science bring these skills into your everyday life.
For maths talking about managing money and budgeting when you are out shopping, paying restaurant bills or juggling your finances. With younger children following recipes and making cakes is ideal for measuring and weighing ingredients and also for them to understand how substances are mixed.
Getting your kids involved in a DIY project is another way to work their spatial awareness and deal with shapes and measuring.
As much as you want to limit your child on devices, or app games, many like Minecraft teach maths and critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
While, board games like Game of Life and Monopoly help younger children to get to grips with money and money management.
Sign them up to learn something new
Finally, why not sign them up for something new? Summer is an excellent time to take up art, comic design, music or a new sport.
Check out your local leisure centre as they offer a wide variety of summer courses and activities for children, from arts and crafts to dance and sports, and they don't cost very much.
First tutors can also help with one-to-one tutoring in any specific area, such as creative writing, painting, pottery, public speaking, and journalism.