While school is not in session reading skills and routine are essential to setting your child up for success for the next year. Here are a few ideas so many parents have shared with me and a few I have discovered through loving life with my two children.
Allow children to help prepare meals. I know what you are thinking, yeah right! It took me a while to get used to my kids helping with dinner. However, it does get easier. They learn a routine to prepare the table (children as early as 3 can help with this), prepare drinks, prepare salads, cooking dinner and cleaning up afterwards. Some parents overlook these details because let’s face it, we can do it quicker and more efficiently. Give them some time they need to be taught to be successful in this area. Cooking is so amazing to help support reading informational text and incorporating math skills. My second grade child works with measuring cups as she deciphers the difference between ½ teaspoon and ½ cup of an ingredient. It is amazing how involved boys and girls can get when allowed to help in the kitchen. Cupcakes are my favorite! Once kids get involved in helping cook, they can read through cook books and create shopping lists for dinners they would like to make. I’m sure if you have a picky eater they might be more inclined to eat a dinner they investigated and helped to prepare.
As far as math skills, you would be surprised how far practicing math facts will go to helping your child in math class next year. There are multiple apps for different devices as well as math drill computer games. If you don’t have computer access, traditional flash cards go a long way and they can be found in every Dollar Store in the school department. Lower grades addition and subtraction facts and third grade and above drill those multiplication and division facts. These skills are the foundation of all word problems and everyday common sense math problems.
Get them a watch! Sure, find a $5.00 watch that is water resistant and take your watch off. Ouch! This is a killer for me. I realized I look at my watch every couple minutes. It’s great for explaining length of time for kids. For example, “you have 10 minutes to straighten up your room,” “10 minutes till we leave for the grocery store,” or “at 3:00 we’ll leave for the park.” Teach students to manage their time wisely. Also, if your child is really into TV shows, video games, and computer time a watch is a great way to help them manage their own time wisely. Multiple studies have proved the decrease in attention electronics can encourage in young students. Summer is a great time to play outdoors and explore!
Talking and sharing stories with older family members. Possibly helping them or doing small chores for them during the day. This is wonderful for listening and comprehension skills as well as helping family members. I can think back to my own childhood as I listened to my Great Grandmother tell stories and I fought relentlessly to not wiggle in my seat. I appreciate those stories now and recollect those stories even now to my own children. Kids love to hear stories. Have them write about their own summer and share it with an elderly person. Most people that have the time to spare enjoy listening to children share stories. This really develops an important life skill, do you know any adults that can’t listen to a conversation without butting in? (Giggle)
Another great adventure if you have the opportunity to explore outside the house this summer is museums and aquariums. Usually these are low cost and provide children with an abundance of information of local history and native species (plants and animals). One of my children’s favorite sights in museums and aquariums are the simulations and hands on experiences. My girls can stay in the Children’s Museum for the entire day. This kind of creative play gets overlooked, but is so essential in our daily life. Building, problem solving, communicating and so on. The Fort Fisher Aquarium is another favorite. We take a routine trip there almost monthly. We always learn new information and speak with different volunteers.
Encourage kids to keep a nature journal when they go on their adventures. Many kids love art and science. This is a sure-fire way to encourage them to maintain reading and writing skills. Allow them to research through books or digital resources about different local species of plants and animals and draw them with labels.
Local and some school Libraries are sometimes overlooked. Who doesn’t love a free book to borrow? Many of these libraries also have reading programs and/or themes to further inspire your young learner.
Let’s not forget the importance of fitness and arts! There are multiple organizations that provide summer programs for sports and fitness. These not only help children to make healthy life style changes but keeps them communicating with children their age, adults and pushing their limits. Art programs inspire creativity and allow children to continue growing on their level. There are paint programs, pottery, building, design, creating web-pages, blogs, and more.
Building routines not only helps you out as a parent, but cultivates children to gradually be responsible for their own life and routines. Waking up and brushing their teeth automatically. Putting clothes in appropriate places when dirty, clean, or wet. Helping with regular household chores. No, this isn’t child slavery; it is helping the family be able to spend more time together when mom or dad isn’t continually cleaning. Children can take out the trash, help clear the table, load and unload the dishwasher, fold towels, put away clothes, sweep or run the vacuum. Kids love the chance to have more responsibility and eventually (about the teenage years, or so I hear) that will to want to help gradually leaves. LOL
Some kids might be apprehensive to so anything that resembles schools work. That becomes an opportunity to share with them the successes they have had and explain how they will be maintaining skills to start the year off right. Much of their enthusiasm begins with the adults around them. It might take a little prep work and energy to get them interested, however, once they get going in a direction they love they are sure to keep the learning juices flowing.