School’s Out for Summer :: Keeping Kids Sharp

Our kids got out of school recently, and of course they are thrilled! As a parent though, I sometimes worry about making sure they don’t backslide over the summer. On the other hand, I also worry about overdoing it when they are supposed to be on a break (and let’s be honest, parents need a break sometimes too!). So, with a little help from my teacher friends, I tried to put togetmax library 2her some fun ideas for keeping their little minds engaged without too much “work”:

1. Library Reading Programs :: When I polled my teacher friends for summer i
deas, their immediate responses were almost unanimously, Get a book in their hands! This made me feel like I’m on the right track, since that’s the one thing we actually remember to do every summer. It is our absolute FAVORITE summer learning activity.

We typically participate in the Wichita Public Library’s summer reading program, which I love because it has different programs geared towards different age groups (0-2, age 3-5th grade, and 6th-12th grade). I love that all our kids (ages 1-14) can do it together, and I’ve always found the goals and rewards to be perfectly tailored to each.

Wichita Public Library's reading logs and activity sheets for different age groups! Our family needed all 3.

Wichita Public Library’s reading logs and activity sheets for different age groups! Our family needed all 3.

A quick internet search turned up many similar programs in surrounding areas:

Goddard Library
Andover Library
Haysville Community Library
Valley Center Library
Derby Library

{This is not intended to be a comprehensive list, so please check your local library if you don’t see it here!}

Kids can also earn a free book from Barnes and Noble or free tokens from Chuck E. Cheese by completing reading logs. You could even double up on programs for extra incentive!


2. Grade-Specific Workbooks :: Several of our kids’ teachers over the years have recommended the “Summer Link” workbooks, which you can find at Sam’s Club for about $10. We’ve used these before and found them to be quite good, particularly for Math. Amazon also has the “Summer Bridge” workbook series, which has great reviews. {Tip :: Purchase these for the grade just completed. These are intended as a review, and prospective grade workbooks will have concepts they have not yet learned!}

3. Educational Outings :: A more subtle way to incorporate learning into your summer is to plan outings to places with an educational or learning component, such as the zoo, Exploration Place, Cosmosphere, Botanica, Great Plains Nature Center. Many of these locations offer educational classes or sessions at scheduled times. You can also look up information about where you’re visiting beforehand so you can talk to your kids about things to keep an eye out for–or, even better yet, you can make up your own “scavenger hunt” of things for them to find or photograph as they go!

4. Websites and Apps :: There’s something about a screen that makes everything more appealing to some kids, so why not take advantage? There are TONS of great educational websites and apps. Here’s a list of favorites I compiled (with the help of some teacher friends): – Spelling {App also available} – Math
IXL – Math and English {App also available} – Reading
BrainPOP – Multiple Subjects
Go Noodle – “Brain Breaks” {Tip :: These are great for a fun break, or even on rainy days!}
TenMarks – Summer Math Program {free through Amazon}
iTooch – Math {App}
Endless Alphabet – Alphabet for ages 2-5 {App}
Kindle – Reader for eBooks {App}

5. Camps and Classes :: Summer break is the perfect time for kids to try a new activity or to learn to explore existing interests in a new, fun way! There are tons of great camps and classes around Wichita for all kids (I’m not even going to attempt to list them, because we have a great resource right here).

{BONUS :: You can combine some of these activities and create theme weeks! For example, you could have a “space week” and challenge your kids to find space-related books at the library, plan a visit to the Cosmosphere, and see how many words they can get right from a space-themed list on Spelling City.}

What’s your favorite educational summer activity?

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