Post originally written in June 2018 on an older blog of mine. Transferred here because I still use these techniques!
For public school children, the “Summer Slide” is a very real thing. This is a phenomena where children lose some educational gains over their summer break. This tends to happen because children don’t use their mental skills for a period of time. The easiest way to combat this is by reading. Just twenty minutes a day will help to reduce skill loss over school breaks. For homeschooling parents, the subject is a bit more complex. Your children are home all year. There isn’t necessarily a delineation between school “terms” and “breaks.”
I had planned to continue the curriculum I laid out for the girls through July, but they practically begged me for a break. They want some time to just relax, and for Anya, she wants to avoid reading (HA, sorry kiddo), and Ella would love to avoid all math related work. They both were cast in a local production of The Lion King, Jr. as well, so I figured their request for a break was not completely out of line. Rehearsals for the production are four hours a day, four days a week for the next six weeks. That’s a lot for theater newbies!
Because the girls were behind when I pulled them out of public school a year ago, we’re still playing catch up. I hate to lose any time we have to get them where I want them to be. To facilitate an educational atmosphere that will prevent them from sliding further behind, here are five things I’ve implemented (and I think these could be helpful for parents of any educational philosophy):
- Summer Reading Program. Most libraries (in the States at least) offer this. It’s free, and usually they have prizes for hours read and fun crafts once a week.
- Practice rote memorization facts. This can be multiplication tables, state capitals, anything. We try to practice once or twice a week, just to keep the information fresh in their minds.
- Sign them up for a performing arts camp! Nothing keeps the mind working quite like music, dancing, and acting – truly! The girls are having so much fun in their theater program, and this is the first time they’ve ever done something like this!
- Minecraft. Okay, so I know that most people think that video games will rot your brain, but countless reasons prove just the opposite. My girls play Minecraft a lot when it’s too hot to go outside (which for us, is very often now that we live in the desert) or on rainy days. People often overlook Minecraft as an intellectual tool! Like legos, it helps to build math and imaginative skills. Unlike legos, however, you can’t step on these digital bricks on your way to pee at 3am.
- Play outside! This is huge! Kids need to be outside playing with their friends, because this uses their creative and imaginative skills and helps to keep kids thinking and engaged.
If your kiddos are anything like mine, they’d really rather sit around watching Youtube and drinking iced tea. But we have a responsibility as parents to help them learn to keep their minds engaged, and the above five methods are something I will be using this summer.
What do you do to keep your kids’ minds active during term breaks?