You’ve probably heard that kids have “summer slide” or “summer brain drain” while they are out of school for the summer but it doesn’t have to happen. You can help your kids or grandkids by getting them to read or do other learning activities during the summer. The key is to make it fun and not a chore.
Let your kid choose books that they are interested in reading, including comic books or magazines. Any reading is going to help keep up their skills and is better than not reading. If you’re going on a vacation, find a book for them to read about where you’re going or an activity you’ll be doing. If they have a favorite sport or activity, have them read about a famous player. Both the North Regional and Webber Park Libraries have kids’ book clubs and family story times along with other fun activities. Check the local Little Free Libraries (LFLs) to find some fun reading materials. There are LFLs at Folwell Park, Webber Park (and most Northside parks), the Story Garden on 35th and Humboldt, Serendipity Coffee on 33rd and Lyndale, the MPD Special Operations building on 41st and Dupont, the 4th Precinct on Morgan and Plymouth, and many other sites.
There are also easy ways to get some math into your kids’ summer. Do they like baseball? Baseball is all about numbers. Teach them how to figure out their favorite players’ batting average or a pitcher’s earned run average. You can have them look at grocery store ads and help figure out the cost of the foods on your grocery list. Get a cheap deck of cards and play War, Black Jack or Cribbage with them (they’ll love spending time with you and won’t know they’re actually learning).
You can have them get in some writing in by having them write letters to grandparents or other relatives. For older kids, you can have them write a letter to a politician to let them know what they think about a certain topic. Have your kids write out your grocery lists while you dictate. Send them on a scavenger hunt and have them write down what they find and where, instead of actually collecting the items.
Summer is also a great time to sneak in some science learning. Go on nature hikes and help them learn about different animals and plants. North Mississippi Regional Park has a number of kid friendly programs (you can check out the Camden News to see what’s happening there each month). There is also the Eloise Butler Flower Garden and the Quaking Bog, which are excellent places for nature walks. You can also spend time in a garden, either your own or a community garden, and talk about what’s growing.
If you don’t have kids, you can still help neighborhood kids get some learning in. Put children and teen books in the Little Free Libraries. Invite neighborhood kids to check out your garden or a community garden you’re working at. Or maybe ask a local kid if he or she wants to “help” work on your car or other machine or a building or craft project you’re doing.
There are lots of ways to keep those young brains engaged over the summer; you just need to make it fun or interesting (and not tell them they’re actually learning).