This article originally appeared on Herald Newspapers.
While summer is for rest and relaxation, it’s also a great time to help young learners continue to develop while reinforcing skills learned at school. The faculty of High Meadows School offers some age-appropriate suggestions for stress-free, fun learning activities your children can enjoy during the school break.
Literacy and Language Arts
Early Elementary – Get a library card and shop bookstores to find titles at your level. Read each day, to yourself and out loud to develop fluency and expression. Talk about what you read with others. Create a writing journal to include pictures and words, including poems, original stories, captioned photos, recaps of summer activities, and even to-do lists. Write often to practice proper formation, upper and lower-case letters, spaces and punctuation.
Older Elementary – Read daily from a variety of genres and formats. Start a book club and meet in person or via Skype to discuss. Read a book that’s also a movie, experience both, and compare the two. Start a pen-pal correspondence with a far-away person using snail mail or email to describe your different cultures, favorite activities and more. Hold a neighborhood spelling bee or play word games like Scrabble or Words with Friends.
Middle School – Read everywhere! Find an author you like and read everything she’s written. Invite friends to a book swap, bringing favorite titles they’ve already read so that everyone takes home a new-to-them book. Write to friends when you’re away on vacation or at camp to share what you’re seeing and doing.
Early Elementary – Practice counting by 2s, 5s and 10s, or odd and even numbers. Tell time on analog or digital clocks and keep a schedule for daily activities to reinforce recognition and correct format. Tell elapsed time by talking about how long it will be to lunch or dinner, or how much time you spent at the pool or walking to a friend’s house. Write in a math journal, creating addition and subtraction number stories, practicing fact families and using different terms for finding answers (How many in all? How many fewer?)
Older Elementary- Practice fast facts with flashcards, math apps or videos. Turn household activities into math projects, like planning space in a garden bed, measuring for carpet, or calculating gallons of paint needed. Budget for a party, trip, or meal and help tally expenses along the way.
Middle School – Review math facts and put them to use in real life settings. Calculate how long it will take to drive to a summer destination and how much gas the trip requires. Set a budget for shopping (for food, clothes or gifts) and track money spent. Establish a bank account and manage it.
Early Elementary – Collect rocks and chart them to compare their properties. Make a simple bird feeder, fill it, and log the types and numbers of birds that come to visit. Search for summer constellations and find out which stars will be visible in the coming seasons. Cook and bake, paying attention to how ingredients react when combined.
Older Elementary – Plan a project that will last all or most of summer, like observing plant growth, tracking weather patterns, or growing your own cultures for bread. Visit www.stevespanglerscience.com for science experiments you can do at home. Create a marble run with objects and connecting materials found around your home.
Middle School – Visit a museum, nature center or public garden and explore. Capture interesting things you see or learn about with your smart phone camera. Collect the images and your notes about them in a summer science slideshow or album.
Emotional Intelligence/Soft Skills
Early Elementary – Arrange playdates with a variety of friends. Perform simple chores at home and practice following multi-step directions. Work on tying shoes, buttoning and zipping clothes, and keeping track of belongings independently. Practice communication with peers by speaking up about likes and dislikes. For example, use phrases like “I like it when you __, that is helpful.” Or, when there is conflict, say “Stop. I don’t like it when you __ because it __ me. Next time, please __.”
Older Elementary – Choose an issue that you are passionate about and select a way to share your thoughts about it. Spread kindness by helping neighbors with chores, offering to care for the family pet, and making efforts to say something nice to someone each day. Play games with family and friends to encourage taking turns, gaining perspective and team-building. Reflect daily: share highs/lows/what you noticed about your interactions with others.
Middle School – Commit to device-free time daily. Connect with friends in person and play a board game, go for a walk, take a swim, or talk about anything that interests you. Be active and enjoy the free time!
Students of all ages benefit from free creative expression. Explore different types of media and encourage unique applications. For example, create clay figures and make stop-motion videos of them. Paint concrete pavers and use them to create a special section of your yard or garden. Try a new musical instrument or write a song based on your summer experiences.
When engaging in learning activities, keep them purposeful, give them a designated amount of time (not too long!) and focus on fun. Children learn through play, and these approaches will keep their academic and social skills fresh while school’s out for summer.
This article originally appeared on Herald Newspapers.