Balance Summer Learning and Family Vacations

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summer_learning stephanies blogFor many families, summer is a whirlwind of road trips, family visits, camps, and constantly changing sports schedules. With all of this activity as well as your child wanting a break from school, it can be very easy to let education fall by the wayside.  However, your child can lose a lot of the progress they’ve made! It can be very difficult to balance summer learning and family vacations.

The best way to keep your child learning over the summer is to incorporate activities that don’t feel like learning.  Below I explain how to incorporate summer learning into four popular summer destinations!

Summer Learning at The Beach

Does your family take beach trips throughout the summer?  If so, your children have a living science classroom at their disposal.  Have your children read articles about hermit crabs, how ecosystems work, why the ocean has tides, or what species are endangered while they are actually at the beach.  Then, ask them to explain what they read.

Many beach towns also have small museums or aquariums that provide activities for children.  Kids really love being able to touch, see, and feel, and they will be able to remember what they experienced a lot more than if they just talked about it in a classroom.

Lastly, you can make a quick and easy beach game using a beach ball and a permanent marker.  You cover the ball with questions, and your child has to answer the question where his or her thumb has landed.  Be creative with topics and levels of difficulty, and feel free to add your own point system for kids who are motivated by competition.

Use Car Trips for Learning

If you have some long trips ahead of you, you may consider downloading some high-interest audiobooks or podcasts to listen to with your kids.  This will allow them to work on their listening comprehension skills as well as access a wide variety of content.  You can alternate between fiction and nonfiction in order to mix it up.  Music is also a great audio tool, especially if your child is taking a foreign language.

If your child doesn’t get carsick, you have a whole new realm of possibilities.  You can use math or word games on a smart phone or tablet, scavenger hunts, word hunts, and memory games keep them occupied and work on academic skills.

Explore the City

We are lucky enough to live in an area that has amazing museums that are also free.  My personal favorite is the Natural History museum, because it provides lots of hands-on experiences for kids as well as stunning visual displays.  If you visit, try going to the section that is most closely aligned with last school year’s curriculum to reinforce you’re your child has learned.  You can also look ahead to the curriculum they will see in the fall so that they will have a visual representation of what they will be learning.  The same thing can be said for any of the other Smithsonian museums (and the zoo).

Another favorite of mine is The Spy Museum, which provides a great opportunity to use critical thinking skills.  Visitors are given a mission to carry out while they are there and have to use problem-solving skills to complete it.  This museum has an admission fee, but kids absolutely love it (even big kids).

Many of the embassies hold cultural events and provide programming for children.  These opportunities are great for cultural awareness, building tolerance, developing a strong knowledge of geography, and learning about the arts.

Another thing to look out for is events on the National Mall.  You never know what you might find there, and you can always visit the monuments to learn about history and government.

What To Do at Home

Rainy days provide a great opportunity to play educational games!  This can be on a leapfrog, tablet, or smart phone, but I personally think that board games are a better way to engage the whole family.  You can find games for virtually any theme and any age.  If you are looking, Lakeshore Learning as a lot of great options.

Tutoring sessions can also be a lot of fun with the right person.  Our best tutors bring games, multisensory activities, and a lot of enthusiasm into their lessons.  Don’t be afraid to ask your child’s tutor for any suggestions to extend learning beyond the session!

Keeping learning going over the summer doesn’t have to be a lot of work for you or your child.