The end of the traditional school year is upon us, and with summer around the corner, you may be thinking about how to keep your kids occupied. Yes, there are those lazy days of summer that we all look forward to, and though there is nothing wrong with taking advantage of a more laid back schedule, more and more we are hearing about summer brain drain or summer learning loss.
Summer learning loss occurs when children are not engaged in educational activities during the summer months. Academic skills and knowledge gained during the year are at risk of being lost when there is no reinforcement and learning taking place.
Keeping Summer Learning Fun
Preventing summer brain drain does not mean your child has to be glued to a textbook every single day, after all, it is summer. In order to be effective, summer learning has to be fun. The best part is that summer learning can take place almost anywhere, anytime. Keeping the learning momentum going over the summer by making sure your children are engaged and actively learning can give them an advantage when fall rolls back around.
Keeping your children’s minds sharp during the summer months also allows them to review the past year’s concepts. Doing so gives them a more thorough understanding, and helps reinforce material that you covered early on in the year and that may not be as fresh in their minds.
If a family vacation is on your mind, or even if you plan on taking full advantage of what your local area has to offer with a staycation, consider these destinations. Most are found in large metropolitan areas that, depending on where you live, may take no more than an hour to reach. These attractions will usually offer homeschooling activities, summer/day camps, and other programs that are both fun and educational for the whole family.
Zoos – Watching animals at the zoo is always fun and interesting. Not only are we given a chance to observe animals that we do not see on a daily basis, but we are also able to learn so much through interactive activities and programs. Zoos will often feature special talks with zookeepers, which gives visitors the chance to ask questions and find out what it takes to care for animals like elephants, tigers, and giraffes. Many zoos also offer visitors the exciting opportunity to feed some of the animals, which is a great way to get an up close look at many of the amazing creatures.
Science & children’s museums – There is so much to see and do at these museums. You can easily make a day trip out of these destinations. Visitors can explore dozens of interactive, hands-on exhibits that offer an in-depth look at exciting topics as well as allow guests to gain new insight and learn things from a different perspective. Educational activities also help teach important skills that can reinforce concepts or serve as the perfect opportunity to introduce new ones.
State parks – Take the learning and adventure outside by visiting a local park. Most give visitors the opportunity to get physical by offering hiking trails, kayak or canoe rentals, and more. You can also explore and learn about native plants and animals by going on a nature walk. Informative stations are usually found throughout that serve as learning opportunities. Some parks also give children scavenger hunt items to look for, which adds to the fun.
Aquariums & planetariums – Whether your child wants to explore a new world by learning about everything under the sea or up in the skies, visitors to these educational attractions will be in for a treat and a wealth of information. Guests can sit in on informative shows and get a close up look at new things they may have never seen before like Venus or a stingray. If your children are into marine biology or astronomy, these destinations will feed their already curious minds. Before you go, be sure to inquire about any shows, kids programs, and upcoming special events.
Home sweet home – Perhaps you would rather have an in-house, educational field trip and save some green. Your own kitchen, community pool, or local beach or lake can serve as fun learning experiences. Make your own ice cream and learn about measurements by using different tools. Head for the water and experiment with buoyancy. Will swim goggles float or sink? What about a beach ball?
Keeping the learning momentum going over the summer does not have to be a chore, time consuming, or even costly. As long as you find a way to keep your child in a learning state of mind, you can turn any summer activity and outing into an educational adventure.