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We all know that it's important for our children to keep reading during the summer to prevent the summer slide — the loss of some achievement gains made during the school year.

And often it can be a struggle to keep your child engaged in learning during the warm, sunny days of summer.

But the key is as simple as giving them options.

Here are several ideas to help them beat the summer slide:

Reading programs:While so much learning has hit the digital age, summer reading programs have stood the test of time. These reading programs are free and often incorporate rewards. Visit mpl.org for to learn about the Milwaukee Public Library's program.

Free educational apps:If your child's smartphone is glued to their hand anyway, why not download a few apps that can sneak in some brain-teasing time? Free apps such as World's Worst Pet, Cargo-Bot and Rocket Science 101 can help your child brush up on their vocabulary, flex their brain muscles or even launch a rocket! If these examples aren't exactly what you're looking for, a simple search for educational apps in your App Store can provide more options.

Summer learning events: Classes are great way to learn and have fun at the same time. In the area, you can find classes for all ages at the Milwaukee Public Museum, the Milwaukee Zoo, the Milwaukee Art Museum, Discovery World, and various city recreational programs. With this much variety, there is truly something for everyone!

Use everyday opportunities: Activities that we engage in each day can be turned into learning opportunities. For example, if you are having a picnic, have your child pick out recipes, make a shopping list and budget, and use measuring and fractions for assembling recipes. Incorporate reading and writing by having your child make invitations, decorations, menus, etc. The options are limitless.

Be creative, but don't reinvent the wheel.These websites will help to invigorate a love of learning in the summer months:

· kids.gov

This website provides resources for arts and crafts projects that will keep children engaged and their minds active while having fun.

· readwritethink.org/parent-afterschool-resources/

This after-school and parent collection from ReadWriteThink offers links to summer activities and projects, games and tech tools, printouts and how-to articles. Plus, there's a link to a useful podcast series about out-of-school learning.

· education.com/seasonal/summer-fun/

From education.com, this collection features plenty of activities to keep your kids busy and learning this summer. From hands-on science activities to outdoor games, there are dozens of ideas here to get started.

· pbs.org/parents/education/math/math-tips-for-parents/summer-math/

These easy-to-implement ideas are perfect for summer learning. My favorites: Turn chores into math learning opportunities, or find math lessons in your child's collection (sea shells, baseball cards, etc.). PBS Parents' reading tips guide is also useful.

As long as the learning experience is fun and rewarding, your child will enjoy the opportunity. And summer learning isn't just for kids. Make the experience a family learning event. When the kids see you having fun, they will want to jump right in beside you.■

Tracy Christman is a psychologist with Milwaukee Public Schools and the mom of two boys.


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