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Four Ways to Keep Your Kids Learning All Summer

written by: bcronin • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 7/8/2015

Along with the fun of summer comes your children forgetting much of what they learned during the school year. Try to reverse that trend this year by using some of these summer learning tips geared to elementary-aged students. Create a love of learning in your child!

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    With summer comes warm weather, lots of sunshine with lazy, relaxing days. Parents and teachers alike also know that students tend to forget much of what they've learned during the school year in those lazy summer months. Well, parents should be happy to learn they can prevent that with these four easy methods!

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    Tip #1: Keep Already Learned Concepts Fresh

    Depending on the age and grade level of your child, you’ll want to be sure that in the summer they don’t forget many of the important concepts they learned during the school year. This isn’t as difficult as it may seem. Your school district, specific school, or individual teachers should provide you with a list of academic goals for your child’s particular grade level. This is a simple list of the concepts in each subject (math, reading, writing, social studies, science, etc.) that each child should attain by the end of the school year.

    If a list is not provided, another way to ensure your child doesn't lose some of the harder skills taught that past year is to keep a record of the homework assignments your child completed in the past year, particularly the concepts he or she struggled with. Then periodically work these concepts into everyday life, or fun assignments.

    Keeping these identified goals in mind, engage in conversations and activities on a weekly basis that support these learned skills. For instance, if you’re child has recently learned the mathematical times tables make it a point to do the bills or other calculations with them nearby. Then ask them, "What is 4 times 5?" Let them know you need their help and they’ll be happy to lend a hand.

    Make it a game not a chore. Kids love to be needed and help their parents with an open mind you’ll see the endless opportunities to keep the concepts they just learned fresh all summer long.

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    Tip #2: Use Everyday Experiences and Activities to Engage the Mind

    This tip goes hand in hand with the first. Be aware of what your child learned (or should have learned) during the past school year and what new concepts will be taught next year to make this even more beneficial.

    Once you know this, dig in! From grocery shopping (making the lists, counting the produce, weighing the produce, using coupons, paying) to making bank deposits and withdrawals - everyday activities provide enormous opportunities to learn more and reinforce skills and concepts. They also can provide real life skills, like money management or nutrition, that wil help turn your child into a responsible adult.

    When you utilize everyday activities to engage your children, they are not only learning or reinforcing a skill - they’re actively seeing how it will be used in the "real world" one day. On top of that, they’re helping you and that’s a huge confidence booster. Having strong self confidence is key to lifelong learning and success.

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    Tip #3: Discover Lessons from Mother Nature

    With Mother Nature as a guide the list of learning never ends. Mother Nature offers a vast variety of learning opportunities for children and adults of all ages.

    You can check with your local parks and recreation departments and see what educational programs they offer. Usually during the summer months they have numerous hands-on learning activities for children (and adults) for no or low cost.

    It’s also easy to do it yourself. Depending on your location, city or country, look for nature around you. If you live in the city find a great park to visit regularly during the summer for these activities or take a hike on one of the local trails.

    When you use nature to teach lessons you not only get kids’ attentions, it is also fun, easy, and cheap. Use your imagination or visit your local library or bookstore for guides.

    You can plant and care for a garden, track weather, track animals' summer habits, follow ant colonies, journal, track birds’ habits, and so much more.

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    Tip #4: Take Advantage of Later Bedtimes to Discover a New Nighttime World

    With the sun setting later, bedtimes tend to get later in the summer. Take advantage of this later bedtime by engaging your children in the wonderful world of nature at night! (Turn off that TV!)

    Get a book and learn a bit about nocturnal animals; then sit outside one night, flashlight in hand and watch for them. Lie on the grass and throw pebbles up for bats to dive down to catch. Follow with a nighttime story about bats, or any of the nocturnal animals you observed (or were looking for.)

    Check out the stars and learn about constellations. Read stories about the constellations, how they began and what story specific constellations tell. For a bedtime story follow up with one about using the stars as navigation. Or, use a star gazing app or computer program to try to identify planets in the sky.

    There are so many wonderful ways to engage children in learning during the summertime that not only work but that children love.

    Children’s spirits are full of adventure, wonder, and love. Tapping into this innate part of their existence will make the "lessons" you’re teaching more valuable to them. Try one or two of these summer learning tips for elementary students and your children will learn more than you thought possible.

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