With breaks from school around the corner, children can have a back slide in their learning. Children have to do less “recovery” of their academic skills when they keep the learning going at home and at school. Here are some strategies to keep your kids engaged in learning even when there is no school:
Make everyday activities learning activities
Are you doing something special over the break from school? Turn your activity or family vacation into a learning activity. For example, you can journal about your experiences, research different parts of the United States or map out trips. If you are staying home, you can still incorporate reading and math into such activities as baking a treat or planning a day trip. Children love to do these activities together; so, make learning a family activity!
There are so many learning websites available that kids can easily log on to. However, not all websites are created equally. So look to your child’s teacher for recommendations on the best learning websites. Many school districts use ST Math and Odyssey Reading. If your child uses these at school, they already have login information, and their progress is tracked and monitored; items become more challenging as children approach mastery of a topic. These are a great resource. There are also great websites for Spanish, science and social studies. Ask your child’s teacher for recommendations!
There is one activity that all great readers do. They read! The more you read, the better reader you become. So take the time to read a book as a family. If your child can read chapter books, you can read the same chapter book and then start a discussion. How do you think the character felt? What do you think will happen next? What would be a good alternate ending to the story? Kids love it when parents read the same book. If your child is not reading longer chapter books independently, you could read aloud to your child. Children often can comprehend information read to them at a higher level than if they were to read the information themselves.
Play a board game
With technology, we have moved away from board games. However, take some time to go old school and play a board game! Board games involve math, reading, turn-taking, decision-making and problem-solving skills.
Look for local day camps
Many places, such as local recreational programs and museums offer day camps and day classes during breaks from school. Check out the offerings that are of interest to your child. Day classes and camps provide some structure while keeping things fun.
Offer to have a play group
Invite a few of your child’s friends over and encourage some creative play. Have a craft day, help the kids put on a play for the parents, or find some at-home science experiments to do together. With the internet and YouTube, the options are limitless.
Use the time off from school to teach your child that learning happens everywhere, all the time, and with whatever materials are around you.
Tracy Christman is a psychologist with Milwaukee Public Schools and the mom of two boys.