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Summer 2020 will certainly be unique. When COVID-19 forced the closure of schools and moved learning online, parents and kids were thrust into a new world that didn’t necessarily have the learning structure of school. Parents everywhere persevered and made it to the end of the school year, many of us with an even greater appreciation for our children’s teachers.
Post school term, it is normal for there to be “summer learning loss.” Research has shown that in the summer after third grade students may potentially lose 20 percent of reading and 27 percent of math gains made the prior school year. More disturbing is that this loss gets worse with age, after seventh grade students in the cited study showed a drop of 36 percent in reading and 50 percent in math.
With some schools closing early this year, we can expect that summer learning loss in 2020 may be higher than normal. But parents can help their children retain more of what they learned the past school year by focusing on activities that emphasize both fun and education this summer.
As kids were connected to the computer even more than normal to complete the school year, why not use the summer time to get them to disconnect from the screen a bit? Time away from a screen encourages healthy physical and social development and there are even ways to incorporate their beloved tech as part of a fun outdoor learning activity! These activities not only help children keep their learning game on in summer, they can help foster your bond with them and create summertime traditions and special family memories.
Journaling is all the rage in the wellness world. It’s been proven to help reduce stress, anxiety and depression, something everyone, including kids, are struggling more with during the pandemic. Journaling allows children to keep practicing writing skills while expressing emotions and getting creative. While journaling offers a blank slate for your kids to write about anything they want, using journaling prompts for children can often help you get the ball rolling. It’s a great activity to do at the start or end of a day and is also something you can do together.
TIP: Get a journal for kids that has built-in prompts and questions to get the creative juices flowing. We recommend the One Question a Day for Kids Journal on Amazon.
Family DIY Days
We often put so much emphasis on book smarts that we forget that there are other kinds of “smarts” to develop too. Working with your hands and building something from scratch is a great way for kids to flex project management skills, math, reasoning and reading skills. And there is nothing like the satisfaction of building something from nothing. It’s also easy to tailor what you make to your child’s interests.
TIP: If your kids enjoy crafting, stock your supply closet with the Giant Art Jar from ALEX Toys on Amazon for endless entertainment this summer.
Nature Scavenger Hunt
Getting kids outside and exploring is part of what summer is all about. Direct their activity with a fun nature scavenger hunt. For younger kids it could be as easy as finding a specific shaped rock or twig. For older children have them identify specific trees, flowers and animals in your area while you enjoy being outdoors together on a walk or bike ride. The kids can collect items that are easy and appropriate to take or snap a picture of the things they find that should stay in place. You can either give them a simple list of items to find, or have them figure out the clue using rhymes and riddles. When their hunt is complete they can create a virtual (using photos) or physical collage with their finds.
TIP: If crafting your own scavenger hunt sounds daunting, try the gofindit Outdoor Nature Scavenger Hunt Card Game for Families on Amazon.
Sidewalk chalk art became all the rage during the COVID-19 lockdown. This summer continue to let your kids unleash their inner Picasso creating outdoor art for everyone to enjoy. You would be amazed at the amount of different types of outdoor chalk you can find today. You can even make your own on one of your Family DIY days.
TIP: Check out the Chalk City Sidewalk Chalk Set on Amazon for a non-toxic and washable set.
Random Acts of Kindness
While we all want our kids to excel at school, I also find myself as a mother of two boys, being even more mindful of how they are developing as their own people. Building character, for me, is even more important than building good report cards. I know my boys see what is going on right now in our country from a cultural perspective. I want to make sure that while they see some people expressing so much negativity, they also see that they have the chance to be the light and foster positivity all around them. These acts of kindness could be as simple as writing a letter to a grandparent or calling to check in on a neighbor, or a bigger act like starting a community library or ordering a pizza for a friend.
Summer 2020 might look and feel different, but with a little creativity you can ensure that your children have both a fun and educational summer vacation.
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