Summer is such a great time to relax and have fun together as a family, and to also build deeper relationships with our children ~ I love this time of year!
I recently heard it said that we only have 18 summers with our children, so we need to make the best of each one of them! They’ll be grown up before we know it, and we don’t want to have regrets about how we spent the time we had with them.
As parents we also want to guard against “summer learning loss” or the “summer slide.” Studies done by the NWEA (a research-based organization that creates assessments for measuring growth and proficiency in children’s learning) show that children in grades 3-7 are losing a sizable percentage of their math and reading skills during the summer months. And the loss increases with age. In 3rd grade students are losing approximately 20-27% of their reading and math skills over the summer, and by 7th grade they’re losing 36-50% of their math and reading skills over the summer months. These studies are certainly motivating to keep our kids working on these skills through the summer months.
How can we make summer fun and yet keep it filled with learning opportunities?
Here are 3 ideas:
1. Set up a routine for the summer months
Children thrive on routine, even in the summer months. Of course, it can be a more relaxed routine, but a little routine is still very helpful for most kids. You don’t have to have a specific start time for your day (let your kids sleep in if they will!) but having a plan for what you want them to do each day is a great idea and will help them spend their time doing things that matter this summer.
Bible time together
It’s so important to continue to teach your children about the Lord each day, spending some time together in God’s Word and in prayer as you start or finish your day. Work on building godly character in your children over the summer too. With the extra time you have while school is not in session, you could even take time to memorize some scripture together as a family. Or consider learning more about a specific topic in the Bible like the Fruit of the Spirit. Check out Growing the Fruit of the Spirit Unit Study
for building godly character and learning more about the Fruit of the Spirit Unit Study as a family. This study includes fun learning activities for kids ages Pre-K to 6th grade that cover language arts, science, history, music, art, phy-ed, and even some math. The devotionals in each lesson are spiritually encouraging for everyone in the family, no matter what their age.
- Read aloud every day to your kids
There are so many benefits to reading aloud to your children! One of the biggest benefits is that it builds literacy skills in children. The National Center for Education Statistics found that children whose parents read to them tended to become better readers, and they performed better in school!
“The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children,” (from a Commission on Reading report)
Check out my post 7 Benefits of Reading Aloud to Your Children to learn more about the many benefits of reading aloud to your kids.
- Children who can read should be reading independently every day
The best way to build reading skills is to practice, practice and practice some more! Having your children read for 15-20 minutes a day all year round is a great way to help them increase their reading skills and it will also help them avoid the summer slide in their reading abilities.
Many libraries have a reading challenge with fun rewards to help motivate children to read over the summer. If your child needs motivation, you can also come up with your own reward system for reading every day…a date with Daddy or Mommy, a fun excursion somewhere or a special treat they would love. Also, check out Sarah Mackenzie’s Read Aloud Revival blogs and podcasts to get some ideas of great literature to have your children read
- Games are a great way to practice math skills and still make learning fun! There are so many great math games available today. Check out my post Fun Games to Teach and Strengthen Math Skills for some ideas of great games to try this summer.
- Baking & crafts can also practice math skills. Make some cookies and practice fractions or division. Here’s a fun post on crafts that use math skills from artsycraftymom.
- Set up a lemonade stand to teach money skills. What neighbor can resist your cute kiddos selling lemonade on the street side? And it’s a great way for the kids to learn money skills and have fun too!
Field trip time
Make a point of planning some fun onsite learning by going on field trips with your children this summer once a week or once a month. So much fun learning happens when we go to places like the zoo, the history museum and so on! Minnesota has an amazing resource in the Minnesota Field Trip and Activity Library – check it out to get some ideas of fun field trips to go on this summer! Your public library might also have a list of fun places to take your children as well.
Helping with household chores builds important life skills all children need to develop! Make a list of things that need to be done to keep each room in your house clean each day and then divide these tasks into daily and weekly chore lists. (Separate them out and make lists for each child with an equal number of chores each day.) Download my free chore chart here to use for this purpose. If you’ve never had your children do chores before, have a family meeting and talk about how important it is for everyone to help with keeping the house clean and about the life skills and the level of responsibility they’ll be developing…the way it’s presented can really make or break how your kids respond to taking on more responsibility! You can make chore time fun by turning on music and even encouraging singing and dancing as they work!
2. Set goals for what you hope to accomplish this summer
The best way to make sure you accomplish all you hope to over the summer is to set some goals and make a plan for how you’ll actually complete those goals!
Make a list of ideas for the following categories along with which week you want to do each one this summer:
- Places or people to visit
- Books you want to read (for yourself, for your kids and for read aloud books)
- Tasks you want to complete
- Fun activities you want to do
- Other things you have to do or events you will attend
The Homeschool Life All-in-One Planner has some great goal setting templates to help you think through goals for each of your children and for the family.
3. Be intentional about building relationships with your children
Your children will love it if you make a special point of spending one-on-one time with them several times this summer! Weekly or monthly, whatever works for you. This is especially important if you have several children. Sit down with each of your children and make a list of things that they would like to do with you one-on-one and then set some dates to do those things. Here’s a great post from https://www.embracingasimplerlife.com/kid-date-ideas/ with ideas for how to plan dates with your children and make them happen.
I guarantee those parent/child dates will be some of the most memorable moments your children will have this summer. I found I needed to be intentional about these dates with my children or it just didn’t happen.
I pray this summer will be one that you’ll look back on and say, “that was one of the best summers yet!”
I’d love to hear your ideas for how to make summer full of fun and learning – please share below.