By Jennifer Halter
This month the kids will wrap up the school year and prepare to embark on a much-anticipated summer break. But, if you’re like me, the thought of a little one not being in a structured learning environment
for a few months is worrisome—all the progress made during the school year may be lost. Here are some tips for sneaking in learning opportunities for your children to help prevent the “summer slide.”
Visit the library. Continuing your reading routine throughout the summer is an easy way to help your
children stay on track with their learning progress. Visit the library often for new books and to enjoy many of the free summer programs the library offers.
Bake or cook together. Baking or cooking together is a great way to keep your children’s science and math
skills up to par. Have them read the recipe, measure ingredients and put it all together to create a treat for
the family to enjoy.
Visit a museum or zoo. We are extremely fortunate to have the DC museums and zoo in our own backyard. Plan a field trip to visit one. Allow children to participate in hands-on exhibits, and be sure to ask them questions as you explore new areas. A great follow-up activity would be to have them write stories about their adventures.
Build something. If you’re handy with tools, invite your children to join you to create something new! Allow
them to help with measuring and reading instructions for your project. If working with a hammer and nails isn’t your thing, you can always do this with fun crafts.
Go on a nature hunt. This is a great activity for children of all ages. Visit a local park and go on a nature hunt. Have a list of items to look for, such as certain insects, rocks, leaves, etc. and just explore. If you’re feeling adventurous, get a park map and let your child be your guide as he/she navigates walking and hiking trails.
Write to a pen pal. Writing letters may not be as popular as it once was, but this is a great way to help
your children keep up their writing skills. Connect with friends and family (even if they are local) and set up a summer pen pal program. Imagine how excited your children will be to check the mail and find something
just for them!
Enjoy local camps. There are a wide variety of camps in our area during the summer for children of all ages, and many allow you to sign up for them on a week-by-week basis. Not only will your children get to be in a structured environment for a few hours each day, but they will have an opportunity to learn new things and interact with other children their age.
Take advantage of any teachable moments that come your way this summer to help keep your children’s
learning on track, and they will be on their way to a successful start of the new school year!
Jennifer Halter is publisher of Macaroni Kid Woodbridge and Macaroni Kid Gainesville/Manassas.