4 Low-Cost Ways to Continue Your Child’s Learning During the Summer

Parents have all heard of what has been dubbed the “summer slide,” the time during the summer when children fail to retain the information and skills that they learned in school over the previous school year. It’s inevitable that some information is lost when children are spending their time running through the sprinkler all day and catching crickets, toads, and fireflies in the later evening hours. In fact, according to a University of Tennessee study as reported in the Huffington Post by Anna M. Babin, children who do not read during the summer lose between two and three months of reading development. That’s a lot of lost time. To help their children, most parents want to find low-cost ways to help their children retain the information that they spent the previous nine months learning. Thankfully, there are many ways that you can help your child continue to grow, and many of them are absolutely free. To help you, the parent, help your children retain skills and information that they previously learned, here are four low-cost ways.

1. The Public Library

A public library card is absolutely free, and your child can have access to thousands of books that are appropriate for their reading level and interests. What’s even more, the library often has activities during the summer that will help you child continue to grow, so check out the offerings that they’ll have this summer, and sit down with your children so that they can pick out reading activities that they think will interest them. Have a time once or twice a week that you take your children to the library, and make it a fun time so that they look forward to it. Michelle Maltais also listed in the LA Times several other ways to integrate reading into your summer plans. Some of them include writing stories inspired by nature walks, tracking reading goals through online resources, and tracking reading by making it a game. Keeping track of how much your child reads is as important as keeping track of anything; if you don’t log what you’re doing, then there’s no accountability. And encouraging children to write creatively is fun for many.

2. Math Activities

Math is another area that children often lose skills. Maltais has a few suggestions for this, as well. One suggestion is to make math applicable in daily situations. For younger children, you can encourage them to develop their skills during trips to the grocery store by letting them count out change to the cashier. You can also play games in which your child will need to use math. Almost any board game can help very young children develop counting skills, and many card games require the players to use basic addition and subtraction skills. Scholastic also has a list of places online that offer summer math programs, and even better yet, most of them are absolutely free.

3. Local Community College

If there’s a community college in your area, see if they have classes for children. Many community colleges offer week-long classes that are designed to keep you children stimulated and learn new things outside of the major academic areas of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Although these academic areas are important, if you have a young child, as they get older and enter high school, they will have more opportunities to take a wider range of classes that they choose. Community colleges often offer opportunities for children to explore new languages, computer science, art, and a whole host of other subjects. What’s more, it will continue the spark of interest in learning.

4. Catching Toads, Crickets, and Fireflies

There’s nothing wrong with your children spending nights enjoying the world around them. Take their natural curiosity a step further, and make sure that you are engaging with them. If your eight-year-old daughter loves catching fireflies, use the magic that she feel when watching and holding them in her hand as a catalyst to engage her interest in the science behind phosphorescent glow in insects and animals.

Summer can be seen as an extension of school and a time to explore. It doesn’t need to be a dead space in your children’s learning that they’ll have to work even harder to make up for later. Keep learning fun, make sure that you’re reviewing the basics that they learned the previous year, and add on extras that will spark their curiosity.

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