As the bright sunny days stretch into night, in my house that means our strict bedtime routine (okay I’m not fooling anyone right now my kids have never had a strict bedtime) is completely unenforceable. In fact, my nine-year-old keeps telling me, “But Mommy I can’t go to sleep it’s still morning light outside,” and while it’s very sweet; it is not half as endearing at 11pm, when he’s the only one still awake!
With the onset of the summer season I’m convinced there must be some type of chemical reaction that gets triggered in my kids’ brains. Literally as soon as the weather hints at being even slightly warm, all they want to do is be outside, even if it’s just hanging out on our little stoop and watching the cars pass by. And while there is no doubt my kids need a respite from the classroom this well-deserved downtime comes at a cost, aka the Summer Slide.
If you too are struggling to find ways to entertain and educate your kids this summer, and keep them from succumbing to the summer slide, keep reading for five family friendly activities that can help children of all ages increase their academic skills and avoid the summer slump .
1/Find toys that will challenge your kids to use their noggins!
Shape Mags, an award winning company that specializes in top quality and safety-tested (in accordance with all American guidelines) magnetic toys in different shapes and sizes features a pretty sensational new toy called Magnetic Stick N Stack Tiles. Not only are they fun to play with but educational as the child will develop dexterity and learn their shapes. They were also awarded the Brain Child category of Tillywig Toy Awards, as well as a Parent Tested Parent Approved award from ptpa.com.
These educational and entertaining products which are suggested for children 3 and over, are made to be fully compatible with other brands that have have similar products and a higher price tag and have the best features including:
- Stronger magnets than anyone else has.
- Additional shapes and characters to work with.
- Better durability with enhanced tile structure.
- Lifetime guarantee – no questions asked.
- Stabilizers – build structures on top of square stabilizers making it much more – well stable. No one else out there has this.
As you kids get older you can and add your own educational twist to make these Magnetic Stick N Stack Tiles into more of a game of strategy! You can have them take turns building and To earn an extra turn, add the requirement that the person playing needs correctly to answer a math/science/English question asked by the player to his/her right. If the player gets the problem wrong, the person asking the question will earn a reward. This activity is particularly good for building quick recall of academic facts.
2/ Family book / blog club night
Dr. Haidee Copeland says start your own book club and take turns being the leader for the night. The leader’s responsibility is to select a short story, chapter in the book, story they have written or blog that they will read aloud to the group, and to lead a discussion on what was read. Reading and analyzing information is a fundamental skill for all. Whether discussing And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street or football scores from the Guinness Book of World Records, this activity is a fun way for all family members to build literacy and critical thinking skills
3/ Design your own experiments to demonstrate “how and why things work”
Dr. Haidee Copeland says Look around your home and find something that you are curious to discover “how and why it works.” Work together to: a/ make a prediction regarding how it works; b/ build a model; c/ document your results; d/ analyze your results (did your experiment go the way you planned? Why or Why not?); and e/ use the internet, library or family expert to research “why” it works the way it does.
Creating your own scoring guide that gives points to creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication is an excellent way to help your child build 21st century learning skills!
4/ Learn a musical instrument
According to Rebecca Bogart and her co-author and sister, Jenny Peters, of the book, 21 Songs in 6 Days: Learn Ukulele the Easy Way. Learning the ukulele can be a great way to help avoid the summer slide. The e-book format features 60+ lesson videos and recordings, silly music jokes, illustrations, and lots of practice tips. While for many kids summer vacation can mean a slide in math and reading scores, families can have fun and fight summer slide together by learning to play ukulele! Yes! The cheerful friendly Hawaiian instrument can help your child do better academically in the fall.
Respected neuroscientist Dr. Daniel Levitin points out in his book, This is Your Brain on Music, that music activates more parts of the brain than any other activity. Let’s read that again: Music activates more of the brain than ANY other activity! Study after study shows that children who study music perform better in school than children who do not study music. More specifically, learning to read and play chord progressions strengthens the math centers in the brain. And as children learn the lyrics for the 21 songs in our book, they will be practicing reading skills. Many youngsters will also be learning new vocabulary because the song lyrics are in older, more poetic English than they usually read or hear. Finally, learning a musical instrument requires discipline and regular repetition of new skills. Learning how to learn with something fun like ukulele makes learning anything else much easier.
5/ Get your kids involved in the family grocery list
In her book, Cooking Around the Calendar with Kids: Holiday and Seasonal Food and Fun, Amy Houts offers food and fun suggestions that will help kids through the hot summer doldrums. With just a little planning, parents can help enrich their child’s summer experience. They can make a list of fruits and vegetables in season, perhaps even draw and color their favorite food, then take their picture to the farmers market or to the store to help choose the food. Help them add wholegrain breads and cereals and proteins such as eggs, cheese, grass fed beef and organic chicken and turkey to the list. Include healthy snacks such as pre-cut carrots, grapes, apples and nuts, especially almonds and walnuts.