Our last day of school is quickly approaching here, and my 2nd grader is definitely in tune to that.  Each day, he tells us how many more school days he has left, and then he proceeds to name all the fun things he’s going to do over the summer, from sleepovers to trips to the grandparents’ house to swimming and playing with the neighbors.  He also knows that many of the things he does in school now will be carried over to the summer.

While taking a break from formal learning environments can do everyone a world of good, it is equally important to maintain those skills learned during school in order to be prepared for the following year.  Personally, I’m a scheduler and a planner, and thankfully, so is my child.  We have a schedule of sorts that we set up for the summer (not set in stone – we must allow for those great trips to Grandpa’s house!) that is generally pain-free and can be fun for all of us.

No matter what age your child, spend some time this summer refreshing those learned skills and taking time to get to know the academic side of your child.  Here is a sampling of what we’ll be doing this summer:

READING:  My son and I hit the half-price bookstore a few weeks ago and chose books we wanted to read for the summer.  We have eight titles total that we plan on reading together and discussing.  I ended up buying duplicate copies of three of them so that we can each have our own book, and the rest I will hunt down at the public library when we are ready to read them.  The point is to READ, and READ CONSISTENTLY.  I’m not as strict on his book choices during the summer, although we do decide on titles together.  My son is a morning person, so we will dedicate about 15 – 30 minutes each morning before breakfast to reading time.  Then, over breakfast, we can discuss what he’s read for the day.  It is a great way to connect with my child, learn more about his reading preferences, and give him some much-needed practice in reading and comprehension.

MATH: The easiest math for us to work on during the summer is money.  This is about the time of the year that we re-evaluate my son’s allowance and make any changes that are needed.  My son is a part of that process.  We set up a budget for the summer, breaking down his weekly allowance into savings, church offering, and any special purchases he would like to make during the summer (a new video game or a special toy he really wants).  We set up a chart to track his money, and he is responsible for completing his chart each week. 

Another fun math activity my son does each year involves road trips to the grandparents’ houses.  We spend several days at each grandparents’ home during the summer.  My son is the navigator for the trip.  We equip him with a state road map, markers, and a ruler.  Together, we calculate how many miles total we will be driving, then we break our trip down into increments with rest stops.  We look for interesting places to stop along the way and work those into our itenerary.  He keeps a written log of our trip as well as the map, and it makes the trip far more interesting to him than simply sitting in the back seat!

SCIENCE: From cooking to water play, involving your child in some fun activities is a great way to bring science into the home.  Have your child help prepare a special meal or dessert, and find out what different ingredients do in the recipe (such as baking soda versus baking powder!).  When playing in the sprinkler, slip n slide or wading pool, give your child a variety of containers to explore volume and fractions.  Science is all around!

WRITING: Our son is responsible for writing one letter a week during the summer (although with the rising cost of postage, we may resort to email this year!).  His audience may be a grandparent, a cousin, a friend or even a former teacher.  We simply want our child to practice his writing skills, and composing letters is a great way to do it.  My son also loves to make “books”.  I simply staple paper together into a book format and he gets busy creating a story for himself, his brother, or even for a friend.  Our younger son will also be composing his own mail this year, too.  He is very excited about it!  Our older son helps create our shopping list at the store as well.  Any kind of writing a child can do is great practice.

By taking a look at the things you typically do during the summer months, it is quite easy to see where academics can be woven into the framework of the day without losing the actual fun.  Take a moment to find ways to actively and enthusiastically engage your child in learning this summer.  The payoff will be amazing when school starts again in the fall!