When kids hear the word “summer”, their heads are filled with visions of swimming, trips, lazy mornings in jammies and playtime – all the time.  The last thing on their minds is anything school-related.  But, summertime can be a great time to keep up those academic skills as well.  And, all it takes is fifteen minutes.

In our house, we set a timer each morning for fifteen minutes, and during that time period, we find something school-related to do.  For our first week home, we kept a journal of our caterpillars and eventual butterflies that we hatched.  We spent fifteen minutes each morning, reading and learning about their development, recording observations in a spiral notebook and drawing sketches of what we saw.  It was an amazing science lesson while still making it fun for the kids (by the way, I did it with them – why should just the kids get to have fun and draw pictures every day?).

Some mornings, we take out my son’s old math workbook from school and find a page or two to complete in order to keep our math skills up.  We alternate math work with our piano practice.  Piano during the school year is a 30 minute-a-day schedule for us; in the summer, I cut my son back to fifteen minutes, every other day.  It gives him a break from the regular routine while still giving him the opportunity to keep his skills sharp. 

Other academic activities could be incorporated this way: reading (my son is an avid reader, so I don’t have to prod him each day to read, but a timer and fifteen minutes would work well for many kids), writing (writing letters, filling out a shopping list for Mom, making a birthday list), measurement, and even art can all benefit from a bit of practice over the summer.

By the time my son’s timer goes off, breakfast is ready and our day begins.  Fifteen minutes a day is all it takes.  And, that fifteen minutes flies by!